Roberto Mancini will not allow his team to accept defeat in the title race following the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal that opened an eight-point gap at the top with just six games to play.

He insisted that the side pipped by Mikel Arteta’s late winner at the Emirates Stadium will fight on, starting with Wednesday night’s home game against West Bromwich Albion.

But he warned Mario Balotelli, sent off for the fourth time in his City career for a second yellow card, that the young striker’s behaviour threatens to put his career in jeopardy.

The Blues boss said: “It’s not mathematical, but it’s very difficult now. In the end we didn’t win because they did better than us.

“We need to start to win one game. We play again in three days and that’s good. We must try to win. Never say never.

“It’s important that we start to win and finish well in this championship. In the first 20 minutes Arsenal played very well. We played so-so … we didn’t play very well.”

Unpredictable Balotelli was in a petulant mood all match and finally saw his second yellow card from referee Martin Atkinson for a foul on Bacary Sagna with City heading for defeat.

Mancini said: “I always defend him because Mario is a good guy, but if he doesn’t change in the future I think he can lose all his talent and in one, two, three years he is finished.

“If he doesn’t understand this after two years, I can do nothing.

“I hope for him that he can improve and can understand that he can’t continue to play like this for his future, for his talent. I am very sorry for him for this.”