LONDON, England, March 23 – Samir Nasri believes Manchester City’s dramatic win over Chelsea proves they can cope with the pressure of the Premier League title race.
After leading the league for five months, City surrendered top spot to champions Manchester United following a loss at Swansea City and needed to beat Chelsea to close the gap on their rivals to one point.
They did just that, fighting back from a goal down to prevail 2-1 thanks to Nasri’s winner, and the French midfielder revealed a meeting between the players had steeled them for the run-in.
“After Swansea we could not say anything. We had a really bad game and they played really well,” Nasri said.
“But after that we recovered and we talked, and said a few things, that we came here to win titles.
“We said that we need to be focused because the 10 games that are left are 10 Champions League finals and we want to win them.
“Since then we have shown great character. There will always be someone there to criticise. Not everyone can like City.
“But inside the club we believe that we can achieve something together, and that is most important.”
With United not in action again until they face Fulham on Monday, City can reclaim top spot with victory at Stoke City on Saturday and they will need the likes of Nasri on top form to pass a tricky test.
The former Arsenal star has had his critics since his pre-season move from the Gunners, but he impressed against Chelsea and is adamant the tension of a close title race will bring the best out in him.
“I am not nervous. I play football to play in this type of game,” he said.
“I love football, and on Wednesday, when you see the atmosphere, the crowd, and the football both teams played — everyone wants to play in this kind of game.
“You have to do something special in this kind of game. Sometimes a player can have pressure, and when a team is winning they try to defend. Then it needs something to open the game.
“Carlos (Tevez) did it with his assist when I scored, and Sergio (Aguero) did it with the penalty.”
Meanwhile, City coach Roberto Mancini admits the title race has already proved an emotional experience.
“Football is beautiful for its emotion,” he said. “Now will be different from the start of the season, when you play with no pressure for the title and have time to recover if you lose games.
“From now, every game will be like this, for the last two months. It’s not as bad for the players because they think about playing.
“For the manager it is different. But this is our job — and it is also the supporters’ job! The emotions are fantastic, when they are positive or negative.”