Roberto Mancini has admitted that Manchester City are hoping their local rivals, Manchester United, suffer from a dip in form similar to the one which the Premier League champions experienced themselves in late January and early February.
City are attempting to close the 12-point gap at the top of the table, and manager Mancini believes that a bad result for United could help swing the momentum in favour of City, who are still optimistic of catching the Red Devils.
The Italian admitted to reporters that he hopes fatigue in the United ranks can play a part in the coming weeks.
He stated: "Football is strange for this. Sometimes you lose a game, you don't know why. Maybe one, two, three games. We took two points from three games against Liverpool, Southampton, QPR [in late January and early February]. Sometimes this can happen. United are playing very well this season, they played fantastic against Real Madrid. But 10 games until the end is a difficult moment because all the teams can be tired after eight months. We hope."
The City boss also believes that fixture congestion could be advantageous for his side: "For this reason [fatigue] – because when you play one game every three days, it is always a top-quality game, there will be a moment that you are tired. I was not surprised [about the Chelsea result]. Sometimes they didn't play very well but won because they have good players. For a top team it is important to win when you don't play well."
He continued: "The next two or three games will be crucial. If they lose a point in the next two games, maybe [we can catch them]. After the two games, we have the derby [on 8 April]."
Even though Mancini is keeping a close eye on Manchester United, to ensure City are quick to react if Sir Alex's side slip-up, he knows that his team must stay fully focused on winning their own games, with Tottenham and Chelsea still fighting for second place.