Roberto Mancini admitted his frustration after Manchester City again conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium, and the manager's on-field problems were compounded by another incident involving Mario Balotelli.
The flare-up came after Joleon Lescot's first-half header was equalised by Laurent Koscielny eight minutes from time. Balotelli, who was not in the match-day squad for the 3-2 defeat at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, was given only the closing five minutes as a replacement for Sergio Agüero, and Mancini was seen pushing him towards the tunnel at the end.
Asked why he had manhandled the striker, Mancini said: "I don't remember. It's possible [I did push him]. I don't remember. I don't know what happened after the game. I don't know if he asked me something, but it's not important."
Mancini conceded the confrontation was likely to have been a result of Balotelli's limited game time. "Probably, probably, I don't know. Tomorrow I will ask him and next time I will explain."
City have yet to keep a clean sheet this season. The late goal conceded to Arsenal came after Mancini's side had also led 2-1 at the Bernabéu with four minutes remaining.
"I'm very sorry today for the players because it was difficult after Real Madrid," said the Italian. "But I'm worried because we continue to concede goals. We need to improve and we need to work. I don't know why it's happening but probably we don't have enough concentration in some situations.
"In the last four games we have conceded three goals from set-pieces and this can't happen. I am frustrated but also the players are frustrated for this because if you want to win, clean sheets are important."
Mancini does not believe his side are being held back by any emotional hangover from the dramatic final day of last season, when City sealed the title with Agüero's late goal.
"I hope not because what we did is finished and in the past, it's history. Now we are like all the other teams," he said. "I don't like that we did a third draw [of the season] today. We need to work because we want to improve."
City and Arsenal are now four points behind the leaders Chelsea, and Arsène Wenger remains confident that his team can compete for the championship.
"We have the potential and attitude," the Arsenal manager said. "Time will tell if we can keep the attention and focus. We refused to lose the game today and came back well. We are happy with the team performance but a little frustrated because we had chances with Gervinho when we could have won. Gervinho was a danger but he was nervous in his finishing."
Wenger revealed that his captain, Thomas Vermaelen, missed the game due to flu.
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