Defeat at Villa would be no laughing matter for Man City, warns Mancini
Andy Hampson, Press Association
10:52 GMT, 2 March 2013
12:02 GMT, 2 March 2013
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has told his players their impressive win over Chelsea counts for nothing if they fail to beat struggling Aston Villa on Monday.
The champions have responded well since a dismal defeat at Southampton all but ended their hopes of retaining their Barclays Premier League crown last month.
City thrashed Leeds in the FA Cup and deservedly overcame then third-placed Chelsea 2-0 but leaders Manchester United remain in complete control of title race.
Is that you, Joe Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart sports some fancy dress for Comic Relief
In on it: Midfielder Gareth Barry strikes a pose for the cameras
Support: Jack Rodwell and his team-mates are promoting Red Nose Day by sporting Eighties wigs
Nice do: Right back Pablo Zabaleta shows off his three noses and a suspect haircut
Mancini's men next travel to struggling Villa knowing any they cannot afford to let the intensity drop.
The Italian said: 'For us, it will be important. If we don't beat Aston Villa, it is like we didn't do anything against Chelsea.
'For this reason it is important to beat Aston Villa and afterwards continue to go.
'The season is not finished. It is impossible we can think it is finished now.
'There are 11 games to the finish. It is our job to play all the games 100 per cent and try to win always.'
City and Mancini, of course, have experience of chasing apparent lost causes having memorably fought back to pip United to the title on goal difference last season.
Mancini said: 'I was not strong in mathematics in school, but with 11 games to play – 33 points – everything is possible.
'Last time we won the title from six games to go, eight points (behind). I think everything is possible.'
City captain Vincent Kompany seems unlikely to return to action at Villa Park.
The Belgium defender has missed five games since suffering a calf injury in the FA Cup fourth-round win at Stoke just over a month ago.
It had been hoped the 26-year-old could return against Chelsea but the problem has lasted longer than expected and Kompany has also had trouble in his opposite calf.
Mancini has not yet ruled him out for Monday but the cup quarter-final against Barnsley next week is now looking a more realistic comeback target.
One giant leap: Hart puts in some work in training earlier this week
Weight of expectation: Joleon Lescott powers through his session at the Carrington gym
Mancini said: 'Vinny is getting better in this moment.
'We hope we can recover him for the next game. We will try for Aston Villa for Monday but it is difficult because he did not train with the team, he trained with the physio.
'We hope for the FA Cup. The calf is a difficult injury because you think you are okay and then you have a problem. The calf is a strange injury.'
Former Villa midfielder Gareth Barry should be fit to face his old team after two games out with an ankle injury.
Mancini said: 'He has trained with the team the last two days and I think he will be ready.'
Meanwhile, the City players pitched in to do their bit for Comic Relief. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Jack Rodwell and Barry donned suspect Eighties haircuts and put on red noses to show their support for the cause.