Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea will retain title - Mancini

Roberto Mancini has already conceded the Premier League title to Chelsea.

Mancini's Manchester City side tackle the champions at Eastlands Saturday with a patched-up side containing just three fully-fit senior defenders. It is hardly the backdrop he wanted heading into one of the key games of the campaign, and not one that was anticipated when City were spending in excess of £100million this summer.

"Chelsea are the best team in the Premier League at the moment. They are probably going to win the Premier League title easily," said Mancini.

"They are a strong team, who have been playing together for many years. They have a fantastic manager and they have worked to reach this situation."

It is quite possible Mancini did not quite mean his words to come out the way he did.

Nevertheless, it is quite baffling just five matches in to the season and on the eve of Chelsea's visit to Eastlands to defend their 100% record.

Yet it seems Mancini does feel City are years behind Chelsea at present, even if they are making ground up fast.

"We must work hard to be their equals," he said.

"We can be a strong club in one or two years. But we must improve, month after month, year after year."

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