Vincent Kompany has urged Manchester City to show they are the "real deal" during the festive period, with the captain warning that the Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup can all be lost during the busy Christmas and new year programme.
City travel to Fulham on Saturday, before hosting Liverpool on Boxing Day and Crystal Palace two days later. They then make the trips to Swansea City on 1 January, and Blackburn Rovers for the FA Cup third-round tie on 4 January, ahead of the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg with West Ham United three days later.
"Nothing is won in December but a lot could be lost in December," Kompany told the MEN. "At the moment we are doing the right things but nothing more than that. This is my sixth season in the Premier League and every time this has been the period when you start realising which teams might go on and win it and which teams aren't maybe the real deal.
"You don't win anything but you could lose the Capital One Cup, the FA Cup, and you could lose two or three games and be out of the title race. That is what at stake. Games come thick and fast. If you have bad form it can cost you at this time of the season. We've not won anything yet. We're behind three points [in the league] so you have to reboot every single time and put yourself back on track. You can't consider yourself a great team if you can't do that.
"I believe this is also why you want to be a Man City player. If you don't have that ambition then Man City is not the right club for you. We have done well so far but the Fulham game becomes the most important game of the season now."
For Saturday's visit to Craven Cottage Manuel Pellegrini will have no recognised right-back as Pablo Zabaleta has a hamstring injury, the same issue which also rules Micah Richards out. The manager may decide to move James Milner back or field Dedryck Boyata or Aleksandar Kolarov in the position.