Mancini hoping for better month in February
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is hopeful that the start of February will provide his club with a change in fortune after a disappointing beginning to 2012 threatened to derail their quest for honours.
City's expensively-assembled side lost four of their eight matches in the first month of the year, exiting the FA and League Cups and seeing Manchester United draw level with them on points at the top of the Premier League.
However, the opening fixture of February saw City beat Fulham convincingly, a 3-0 victory maintaining their perfect start to this season of 12 wins from 12 home league games and restoring a three-point lead at the top over United, who face a visit to Chelsea today.
"I think maybe after tonight something can change for us," said Mancini. "January was not a bad month but a difficult month for us. Now, maybe, we can go the other way. The clean sheet was important for the team and it was important to win quickly after the Everton defeat.
"I don't think this puts pressure on United, they are used to always being there on top. But they are like us, we know if we want to win this league we should just try and win all the games and not think about other teams.
"We know we shall have to fight against fantastic teams - like United, like Tottenham - to stay on top, so it is important to stay focused on yourselves."
After losing in midweek to Everton, their third league defeat of the campaign, City responded with a dominant victory courtesy of a Sergio Aguero penalty, an Adam Johnson shot, which took a heavy deflection off Fulham defender Chris Baird, and an Edin Dzeko strike.
City's recent indifferent form has not been helped by the absence, at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, of influential midfield player Yaya Toure of Côte d'Ivoire. City have lost three of the six games for which he has been unavailable, although Mancini was pleased with the individual displays of his goalscorers in Toure's continued absence.
"I was pleased with Adam," he said. "It was a good performance. I always thought he was a fantastic player, it is just that he can always improve. And I was pleased with Edin and Sergio, not just because of their goals, but because they played for the team."
Mancini confirmed that Samir Nasri was forced off during the game due to a hip injury, although the midfielder has an extra day's recovery this week with City not in action until their visit to Aston Villa next Sunday.