x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'We can cope with title pressure' claims Manchester City's Samir Nasri

Manchester United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has a dig at title rivals for recalling Carlos Tevez to the first-team.

Carlos Tevez, centre, returned to the Manchester City squad and played a key role in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Chelsea. Phil Noble / Reuters
Carlos Tevez, centre, returned to the Manchester City squad and played a key role in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Chelsea. Phil Noble / Reuters

Samir Nasri, the Manchester City midfielder, has highlighted Wednesday's come-from-behind win over Chelsea as proof that the team are coping with the pressure of the Premier League title race.

City have stumbled a little in recent weeks, after leading the Premier League for five months, as they surrendered top spot to champions Manchester United two weeks ago.

But after their shock loss at Swansea, City showed character with a fightback against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, albeit in a losing cause, and then by coming from behind to beat Chelsea in midweek.

"After Swansea we could not say anything," Nasri said. "We had a really bad game, they played really well and we were a little bit tired after the trip from Lisbon.

"But after that we recovered and we talked, and said a few things, that we came here to win titles.

"We said that we need to be focused because the 10 games that are left are 10 Champions League finals and we want to win them.

"Since then we have shown great character against Sporting and now against Chelsea. There will always be someone there to criticise. Not everyone can like City; there will be some who will say we were weak on Wednesday night. But inside the club we believe that we can achieve something together, and that is most important."

Roberto Mancini, the coach, celebrated with vigour on the touchline against Chelsea and admits the title race is proving emotional.

He said: "Football is beautiful for its emotion. Now it will be different from the start of the season, when you play with no pressure for the title and have time to recover if you lose games.

"From now, every game will be like this, for the last two months.

"It's not as bad for the players because they think about playing. For the manager it is different; it is like it is for the supporters.

"But this is our job, and it is also the supporters' job. The emotion is fantastic, when they are positive or negative."

Carlos Tevez is set for another substitute's role at Stoke City tomorrow as he continues to build up his match fitness, but Joleon Lescott is still out and the captain Vincent Kompany is doubtful.

Tevez was the subject of a jibe from United manager Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday as the Scot got involved in typical title-race mind games.

Ferguson used a news conference to fire back at City's former player Patrick Vieira for saying earlier in the week that United had shown their weakness in bringing Paul Scholes out of retirement.

"If it's desperation bringing the best midfielder in Britain for the last 20 years back then I think we can accept that," Ferguson said, who added that Mancini "had a wee dig a couple of weeks back".

"We're all going to play our hand that way. There will be plenty of ammunition for that," Ferguson said. "If you talk about desperation, they played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch and the manager said he'd never play again and he takes a five-month holiday in Argentina.

"What is that? Could that come under the description of desperation? There will be plenty of ammunition, don't worry."

Tevez, the former United striker, is back in favour at City after being absent since September, when he refused to come off the bench in a Champions League match in Munich.

Mancini had said the Argentine would never again play for City.