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Mancini hails 'character' as hard-fought victory provides perfect present

Roberto Mancini claimed Manchester City proved they have the character to win the Premier League title by bouncing back from defeat at Chelsea with victory against Arsenal.

David Silva's 53rd-minute goal was enough to separate the teams and move City back to the top of the table after being temporarily dislodged following Manchester United's 2-0 win at QPR in yesterday's lunchtime kick-off.

City will lead the top flight at Christmas for the first time since 1929 if they avoid a home defeat against Stoke on Wednesday and Mancini, who marks the second anniversary of his appointment as manager today, insists that the narrow win could be a seminal moment in his team's title challenge.

"It was very important after Chelsea," Mancini said. "And because United played before us, for our character, this was a big test and we showed we are a strong team. We wanted to go top, but we know the season is long and we know we have to fight other teams like United, Tottenham and others. We know United are a strong team and we cannot think we can win the title without fighting United.

"We can be in second position sometime, but it is important to finish at the top. We want to be top for a long time, not only for Christmas. Stoke, at the moment, are like Arsenal, four games unbeaten, so it is a big game for us on Wednesday."

City captain Vincent Kompany echoed Mancini's sentiments by admitting the importance of the victory over Arsene Wenger's side.

Kompany said: "It was massive for us. We didn't underestimate the importance of this game and we're happy with the result and to keep a clean sheet. We've been going for a lot of goals and could have scored many, but we didn't finish the chances we had today."

Irish Independent