Roberto Mancini has told his old pals at Manchester City that defeat at Stamford Bridge on Saturday would make it hard for them to retain the title.
The Italian coach ended the Blues 35-year wait for silverware when he led them to FA Cup glory in 2011, and bettered this the following season when they won the Premier League title by pipping archrivals and neighbours United on goal-difference. However, he was dismissed at the end of the following campaign, by which time the Reds had reclaimed the league crown.
Following a spell in Turkey with Galatasaray Mancini is now back at his former club Internazionale, but he remains a keen observer of the goings on in England and, in particular, at his former club. City are currently five points adrift of Chelsea, and the San Siro boss believes the champions must return from the capital without a defeat if they are to retain the title they won last May.
“My opinion is Manchester City is the best team in the Premier League but Chelsea are strong because they have very good players,” Mancini told Sky Sports. “Jose Mourinho is a good manager and he has got them a winning mentality. I think that will be an important game. If City wins, the championship is really open. If City lose, it’s difficult. My opinion is City is the better team.”
Whilst Mancini will keep a keen eye on developments in the Premier League over the weekend, his immediate concern is obviously that of his current club. Since returning to the Nerazzurri in November he has found life difficult in Serie A, where they are currently in tenth position and ten points adrift of Napoli, who occupy the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.
Inter lost their last league outing at home to Torino last weekend, and will look to bounce back on Sunday morning when they travel to Sassuolo, who would leapfrog their opponents in the table with a victory. Mancini could give a first start to Xherdan Shaqiri, who has started twice from the substitute bench, whilst recent addition Marcelo Brozovic could also be in contention.