Roberto Mancini is warning his players to beware the crucial next four games as they bid to establish a title-chasing platform for the New Year.
City can join Arsenal at the top of the Barclays Premier League table if they record their third victory in four unbeaten away matches against West Ham at Upton Park tomorrow.
They then face a holiday programme of Everton, Newcastle and Aston Villa to close 2010, and Mancini knows it is vital to be within striking distance of the top when the Champions League resumes for rivals in February.
The Blues boss warned: "Maybe we don't meet Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal, but we are still playing against strong teams. This league is good, every game is difficult. The next four will be very important.
"We are playing well, and we must forget the game against Bolton - if we want to beat West Ham, we must score more goals.
"You cannot ever think that you have an easy game. If you do, it's a disaster. It's very difficult to go to Upton Park. They are a good team and don't deserve to be at the bottom."
Mancini is playing the patient long game as City keep pace with the front-runners: "The Premier League is very strange. There are four teams within three points of each other. So this month will be important for all the teams.
"In February, when the Champions League starts again, that may change something."