Red card resilience shows City's strength
Seven points at the turn of the year is a big ask for Manchester City to try to claw back in the defence of their title but more battling performances like Saturday's 4-3 win at Norwich City will stand them in good stead.
Samir Nasri's debateable red card on 44 minutes hardly helped Roberto Mancini's side but an early double from Edin Dzeko, a Sergio Aguero strike and an own goal from goalkeeper Mark Bunn following a Dzeko effort sealed the victory.
It was a strong response from City, who slipped further behind Premier League leaders Manchester United on Wednesday with an unlucky 1-0 loss at Sunderland.
City's strikers also reacted in the right way having scored only three in the last eight games, prompting Mancini to previously label them "soft".
"We won this game without problem," Mancini told Sky despite Russell Martin's second-half brace for Norwich causing a nervous finish.
"Eleven against 10 is not easy but today we showed that we are there for this title. Also with 10 players the team were fantastic. At Sunderland we also played well and deserved to win.
"We play fantastic football for 20 minutes, Dzeko scored two important goals but I was also happy for the performance at Sunderland - we were missing only a goal."
Mancini was only unhappy at the officials for dismissing Nasri after the France midfielder went head-to-head with Sebastien Bassong before making an awkward movement away.
"It was not a red card. I cannot understand why the linesman said to the referee it was a red card," the Italian said of the former Arsenal man's first dismissal in England.
"Samir did nothing, he did nothing for a red card."
The might of United stands in City's way and few pundits expect the wily Alex Ferguson to allow his troops to slip up in the new year and in the final 18 games, especially after painfully losing their title to rivals City last term.
Mancini though is refusing to throw in the towel given the fighting spirit shown from his league of highly-paid and mostly foreign players at Carrow Road.
"For us it is not important to look at the table. We have to win many games in a row and maybe in February look again at the table," he mused.