Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrini to push City to the max

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his team need to claim close to maximum points in the remaining weeks of 2014 if they are to remain in title contention.

Pellegrini sees the end of December as an important staging post in his side's defence of their Barclays Premier League crown and he knows they can ill afford to drop many more points.

City return to action after the latest international break third in the table, trailing leaders Chelsea by eight points, with 21 to their name from 11 games.

It was at the same stage last season that City's title-winning campaign roared into life as they embarked on a 20-game unbeaten run in all competitions, winning 18 of them.

Pellegrini said: "That of course will be the best thing we can do, but I think December and this week of November are a decisive month for the Premier League.

"We are going to play eight games of the Premier League, we are going to finish the first round (of fixtures) at the end of December. We have 24 more points to try to win.

"We have to try to do it, I think that is the only way. I think maybe not to be top of the table, because Chelsea are in a very good moment, but I think it is important to have a good first round. That is more than 41 or 42 points."

City captain Vincent Kompany is poised to return for the visit of the Swansea after missing the trip to QPR a fortnight ago and Belgium's recent Euro 2016 qualifier against Wales with a calf injury.

There could be a temptation not to risk the influential centre-back before Tuesday's crucial Champions League tie against Bayern Munich but Pellegrini insists that game is not yet in his thoughts.

He said: "We are not thinking about Europe. We are thinking about the Premier League.

"We must try to discount the points we have behind the leaders. It is very important to try to win.

"After we finish the game against Swansea we are going to start thinking about Bayern Munich."

Fellow defender Eliaquim Mangala has also overcome what Pellegrini described as a "small problem" to make the squad this weekend.

Swansea have won two and drawn one of their last three league games to climb into the top five and head to Manchester City on Saturday buoyed by their comeback victory over Arsenal before the international break.

But boss Garry Monk insists he is not looking too far ahead and dismisses talk of a possible top-six finish.

"We just focus on the next game because if you look too far ahead you lose track of what you're doing," Monk said.

"We're just looking at Man City and giving that 100 per cent commitment. Who knows if we can stay in the top six.

"You obviously look at the tables but my focus is on attacking every game as best we can.

"We want to get the best performances and hopefully that will get us enough points to stay in the top half of the table and see where that takes us.

"We're realistic and teams below us are very powerful financially, but all I care is we compete against these teams and we're competing so far."

Swansea will be without Federico Fernandez with a calf injury preventing the Argentina central defender from marking his international team-mate Sergio Aguero.


From Belfast Telegraph