If Manchester City can keep to within “four or five points” of Manchester United by the time the next Manchester derby rolls around, they will retain their Premier League title.
That was the optimistic prediction of Roberto Mancini, after the champions rolled over limp Arsenal 2-0 on Sunday.
It was City’s first league win at Arsenal since 1975, and served to boost Mancini’s confidence, for what is likely to be a tough slog to haul trail blazing United in.
"It was an important victory because it's difficult to play and win here," said Mancini after the game.
"United are a really strong team. In this moment they play very well. But the season is long. It's important for us to be there, close with them, and we will arrive the moment they lose points. We're under pressure maybe but everything can change.
"We have the derby on 6 April and we need to arrive there five or four points behind; it is OK. We know that we are behind. I don't think that we deserve to stay seven points behind United but that is where we are. We need to play well, that is all we can do, we need to work strong if we want to have a chance at the end."
Meanwhile, City are set to appeal the red card received by their skipper Vincent Kompany.
Kompany was dismissed in the 75th minute for a two-footed challenge on Jack Wilshere. But most people, other than referee Mike Dean, believed the decision to send the Belgian stopper for an early shower was harsh.
"We do appeal for Vincent. We have problems because we are missing lots of players," Mancini told reporters.
"It is impossible that a player misses three games for nothing.
"It was not a foul, no red card."