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Pellegrini: The title is not won in December

Manuel Pellegrini has identified the need to pick up six points during the Christmas fixtures, but remains calm over Manchester City's Premier League title prospects.

City's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Monday left them four points behind Arsene Wenger's side and six shy of surprise leaders Leicester City.

The 2011-12 and 2013-14 champions travel to Leicester on Tuesday, but must first tackle struggling Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day.

In each of their previous title triumphs, City have overhauled points deficits late in the season to lift the trophy and Pellegrini was keen to assert that no prizes are given out at the turn of the year.

"We are in this moment in third, four points against [behind] Arsenal and six points against Leicester," he said.

"We must play against Leicester on the 29th so it's very important to win these two games to finish the first round [of fixtures this season].

"The important thing is to be involved at the end of January, then try and win the title in the remainder of the season.

"We have to try to focus game by game – the next is Sunderland, we try to beat them at home which is never an easy game. 

"Then we think about Leicester. We lost important points against Arsenal – a game of six points – but it was not a decisive game as I said before the match.

"You never win the title in December."

Pellegrini is set to welcome back captain Vincent Kompany for the Sunderland game following a calf injury.

City are unbeaten in the eight Premier League outings featuring the Belgium centre-back this season, winning six and conceding only once. The Arsenal loss was their fifth defeat in nine matches without Kompany.