Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini still harbours hopes of retaining the Premier League title despite entering the final 10 games of the season 12 points behind neighbours Manchester United.

City kept their faint hopes alive with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Aston Villa on Monday. Carlos Tevez scored the only goal of the game to inflict a seventh home defeat of the campaign on Villa, who remain in the bottom three.

Mancini was pleased with his side’s performance at Villa Park and believes they still have a chance of overhauling United in the title race, even if some bookmakers have already paid out Premier League bets on United winning the title.

“It was important to stay 12 points behind United because with 10 games to go you never say never. The championship is not finished,” he told Sky Sports.

The City boss only has to look back to last season for inspiration. His team trailed United by eight points heading into the last six games and were written off by punters at, only to stun their rivals with a miraculous comeback.

City sealed the title in dramatic fashion against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the campaign but it was their triumph over United which swung the pendulum their way.

Mancini’s side will be striving for a similar catalyst when they travel to Old Trafford on April 8. However, they must first negotiate a trip to Everton and a home clash with Newcastle United, while hoping Reading and Sunderland do them a favour.

The Italian is determined to evoke memories of last year and push United all the way.

“Keep on winning and you never know. This is football. Last year nobody thought it was possible,” Mancini added.

“Maybe they can lose four games and we can win every game. We know it will be difficult but we want to try. We hope they can lose points before the derby.”

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