Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has admitted he is happy to be entering next week's derby against Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, after seeing his side beat Aston Villa 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals from Mario Balotelli, Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner secured all three points for the Italian's side, who leapfrogged city rivals United following their 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime.
The victory came at a perfect time for the Mancini's side, who will now go into next Sunday's clash at Old Trafford as league leaders, and the 46-year-old stated he is pleased to be at the top of the table ahead of the grudge match, though admitted there's a long way to go in the title race.
"We've only played eight games and there are 30 to go," he said. "We should be happy to go to Old Trafford on the top but we should understand that the championship will be long and that this position can change every week.
"For us, it's important to stay there on the top or very close to the team who is at the top and we'll fight until the end for the title.
"We have started very well and won a lot of games but we need to improve more."
The hosts were impressive against Alex McLeish's men but Mancini, who jokingly booed an announcement from the City press officer stating that no questions could be asked about the Carlos Tevez saga, admitted the Blues started somewhat sluggishly.
He said: "We had a problem in the first 15 minutes because when the players come back from an international break it is always difficult.
"But I think after 15 minutes we played very well, Mario [Balotelli] scored a fantastic goal and I think that changed the game.
"We started the season very well, we knew that this week would be hard because we played Aston Villa and then we play Villarreal which is a crucial game for us and then we have the derby so our mind is very busy."
Balotelli's opener continued his fine form in the absence of both Tevez and Sergio Aguero, and Mancini was full of praise for the Italian youngster.
"I think that Mario is always happy," he continued. "He had four or five matches on the bench but I think he understood. He has played well, he has scored in four games in a row but Mario can change in every moment.
"He's worked well and played well. He's motivated, he's playing, he is scoring and it's an important moment for him."