By SIMON MILHAM
PUBLISHED: 17:51 GMT, 8 April 2012 | UPDATED: 19:15 GMT, 8 April 2012
Roberto Mancini has all but waved the white flag in the Premier League title race after his Manchester City side choked at The Emirates.
But they failed to react and fell to a stunning Mikel Arteta strike three minutes from time. They also had mercurial striker Mario Balotelli sent off shortly afterwards for a second bookable offense in the 1-0 defeat.
Mancini beforehand that the title would head to United ‘If we lose against Arsenal and they beat QPR’.
And Arteta’s wonder strike seemingly fulfilled the prophesy, even if pure mathematics say otherwise.
He knows that the trophy will almost certainly be adorned with the red ribbons of United.
Mancini’s body language afterwards spoke volumes, even if he was loathe to openly admit the fact.
In truth, he was convincing no-one that the title race is still alive, not even himself, and after four seasons of massive spending – two under Mancini’s leadership – City’s owners are sure to ask the Italian some searching questions.
Mancini said: ‘No, it’s not mathematically (over), but it’s clear now that it’s very difficult. We have a game in three days and we will try to win. Never say never in football.
No lads, it’s eight points: Mancini (left) and Balotelli (right) are left counting the cost at Arsenal
He added on Sky Sports 1: ‘In life until it’s over you should do your best. In the end if we don’t win it’s probably because they (United) did better than us.
‘It’s clearly difficult (to lift the players) but we play in three days and this is good. We are a professional team, with professional players. It’s important we start to win and finish the championship well.’
A miserably day for City was made complete by Balotelli’s late red card.
The Italian was deservedly sent off in the final minute after referee Martin Atkinson and assistant Peter Kirkup somehow failed to spot his first-half knee-high tackle on Alex Song, and he could now face a lengthy ban.
Mancini said of that first-half challenge: ‘From the bench I didn’t see the first tackle but it was a bad tackle.’
When asked if the authorities should take a look retrospectively, he said: ‘I hope (so),’ and admitted the striker deserved a lengthy ban.
Mancini added of his controversial countryman: ‘I defend him always because Mario is a good guy, but if he doesn’t change in the future he can lose all his talent.
‘If he doesn’t understand this, after two years I can’t do anything. I hope for him that he can improve, that he can understand that he can’t continue like this, for his future, for his talent. I’m very sorry for him for this.’
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Source : dailymail.co.uk