Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists that his side are still on track in the race for the Premier League title this season.
The Citizens got back to winning ways over the weekend with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Fulham, although defeats to Sunderland and Everton in the opening months of the New Year have allowed rivals Manchester United to close the gap at the top of the table.
Suspensions, injuries and Africa Cup of Nations absentees have all played their part in halting the progress of the Italian's side, but with all his key players closing on returns, confidence remains high in the Etihad Stadium camp.
"It is important to be at the top at the moment - this is very important," he told the Daily Star.
"During the season we know there are difficult moments. I don't think we had a bad month in January, but we had a difficult month because this can happen with injuries, players away and players banned.
"If you have these problems, maybe it's clear that you can't always play very well."
Instead of worrying about the results of rivals United and Tottenham Hotspur, Mancini is focusing on how his own side continue to progress in the battle for the championship.
Next on the agenda is Aston Villa on Sunday, and picking up all three points in the Midlands is all that matters, irrespective of if the Red Devils take top spot in Saturday's early kick-off against Liverpool at Old Trafford.
"We will have a difficult game in Birmingham but if we have the same attitude that we had on Saturday against Fulham we will do well," added Mancini.
"It is important that we stay top and don't think about the other teams. Manchester United can win all their games - they are strong like us.
"For this reason I don't think we can think about the other teams."
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