Mancini not ruling out Chelsea

PA Sport
Roberto Mancini

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Roberto Mancini

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini claims Chelsea remain serious title rivals.

The Barclays Premier League leaders travel to Stamford Bridge to face Andre Villas-Boas' side on Monday. The Londoners dropped out of the top four over the weekend, but they have emerged from a difficult spell over the past week, winning at Newcastle before beating Valencia to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Those results have eased any pressure on Villas-Boas and, while they remain 10 points behind City, Mancini feels Chelsea should know from their own experience that large deficits can be overhauled. Mancini said: "Last year Chelsea had a big lead over (Manchester) United but in the end United won the title by seven or eight points plus [nine]."

He continued: "The Barclays Premier League is very difficult and in these two months, all the teams that play every three days will find it difficult.

"I think they can win it. They have 10 points less than us but we play two times against them and there are 24 games until the end of the season."

Mancini has also backed Villas-Boas to deliver for Roman Abramovich's club.

The 34-year-old Portuguese coach has had a rocky start since succeeding Mancini's compatriot Carlo Ancelotti in the summer, but the City boss thinks Chelsea have found a good man.

Mancini himself needed time to establish his current position of strength at the Etihad Stadium and feels Chelsea just need to be patient.

He said: "I think that has shown in the last year he is a good manager. He did well at Porto, he won trophies. Chelsea did well to get him.

"Carlo Ancelotti is a fantastic manager and I was sorry for him when Chelsea decided to sack him, but I think Villas-Boas is a good manager for them."

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