Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini told his players that Manchester United had beaten Southampton - in order to turn their clash against West Ham on Saturday evening into a 'must-win' fixture, according to Micah Richards.
The City defender told reporters: “We thought [United] were winning one nil. The manager said they had won, Arsenal had won and Chelsea had won, and so we had to win.
“Maybe it was a bit of reverse psychology but it was obviously nice."
City went on to record an impressive 3-1 win at Upton Park, leaving them four places and five points ahead of rivals United, who conceded a late equaliser against the Saints at Old Trafford before Pellegrini's men kicked off.
However, Richards does not believe that United - who currently sit eighth in the Premier League table after taking 11 points from their opening eight matches - are out of the title race just yet.
"United will come strong," warned Richards, who added: "We just knew we had to win. If we had dropped points today, well... we watched Liverpool because they kicked off early.
“They looked strong and Arsenal just keep winning. I know people always say Arsenal will blow up, but when a team gets that confidence going it’s hard to stop and they will do well this season."
Arsenal remain top of the table following Saturday's convincing 4-1 win over Norwich City at Emirates Stadium, while Chelsea and Liverpool sit second and third, respectively.