Originally posted on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 3/23/12
Midfielder Samir Nasri believes Manchester City have proved they can stand the heat in the title race. It was claimed City might be cracking under the pressure when, after leading the Barclays Premier League for five months, they surrendered top spot to champions Manchester United a fortnight ago. But after their shock loss at Swansea, City showed character with a rousing late fightback against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League - albeit in a losing cause - and then by coming from behind to beat Chelsea in midweek. The 2-1 defeat of Chelsea, secured by a late winner from Nasri, lifted City back within a point of United and the Frenchman is relishing the battle. The 24-year-old said: "After Swansea we could not say anything. "We had a really bad game, they played really well, and we were a little bit tired after the trip from Lisbon. "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 against Sporting and now against Chelsea. "There will always be someone there to criticise. Not everyone can like City - there will be some who will say we were weak on Wednesday night. "But inside the club we believe that we can achieve something together, and that is most important." With United not in action again until hosting Fulham on Monday night, City can reclaim top spot with victory at Stoke on Saturday. Nasri is well aware of what a tough proposition Stoke can be - with his former club Arsenal having a poor record against the Potters - but thinks City can prevail. He said: "We have to play our football if we want to beat them. If we try to play like them we won't win, because they are the best at doing it. "They put the ball in the air and fight, but we have different qualities. "If we play the same game that we played at home against them, we will beat them." City ran out convincing 3-0 winners when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium in December with two goals from Sergio Aguero and one from Adam Johnson. Nasri has had his critics since his £24million summer move from the Gunners but impressed throughout against Chelsea before capping his display with a sublime finish five minutes from time. Nasri says he thrives in such circumstances. He said: "I am not nervous. I play football to play in this type of game - (and have) since I was a kid. "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. "You need that in this type of game, otherwise you will not win it - the goals will not fall from the sky." Tevez was appearing for the first time in six months when he came off the bench with 24 minutes remaining to combine with Nasri for the winner. Manager Roberto Mancini celebrated with vigour on the touchline and admits the title race is proving emotional. He said: "Football is beautiful for its emotion. "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 - it is like it is for the supporters. "But this is our job - and it is also the supporters' job! The emotion is fantastic, when they are positive or negative." Tevez is set for another substitute's role at the Britannia Stadium as he continues to build up his match fitness but defender Joleon Lescott is still out and captain Vincent Kompany doubtful.
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