Manchester: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes ending Chelsea’s 100 per cent Premier League record would mean his side had made a decent start to their defence of the English title. City haven’t won since overwhelming Liverpool, last season’s runners-up, 3-1 on August Bank Holiday Monday with what looked at the time a benchmark performance.
Since then, they have lost at home to Stoke, drawn at Arsenal and lost to a last-minute goal at Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek.
Another defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday would allow Chelsea to extend their advantage over the champions to eight points.
But Pellegrini prefers to look at the other side of the equation as he tries to get the better of old foe Jose Mourinho, who masterminded a classic 1-0 win at City in February as part of a double over the champions last season.
“They (Chelsea) have started very well. They are playing very well also,” Pellegrini said on Friday. “I think that we didn’t start badly, although maybe the game we lost here against Stoke was an unusual game.
“I think we were unlucky in the last two games, against Bayern in the way we lost with that goal and against Arsenal we deserved to win the three points but things happen,” the Chilean added.
“We hope we recover here playing at home and get three points on Sunday.
“I always try to think of positives so I hope we are not going to lose and we not going to go eight points behind Chelsea.
“We must win our next game at home and with that we will be two points behind the leader and that for me will be a very good start after playing Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.”
Midfielder Yaya Toure came in for criticism for his performance in Munich and also for the way he embraced Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, his former manager at Barcelona, at the end of the match.
But Pellegrini insisted the Ivory Coast international was fully focused on his role at City.
“Yaya always has commitment with the team and the squad and with his mates and he doesn’t have any problems about that.”
City will again be without the injured pair of Fernando and Stevan Jovetic but former Chelsea favourite Frank Lampard will be included in the squad to face the club where he spent 13 years and was their highest ever goalscorer.
Chelsea manager Mourinho believes there is still room for improvement from his side, despite their impressive start to the season.
The midweek home draw with Schalke in the opening game of the Champions League group was a disappointment and while the opening five games have produced 16 goals for the Blues, but they have also shipped seven goals which indicates there are defensive weaknesses for the manager to address. “You try and improve in every aspect,” Mourinho said.
“The perfect situation is to score a lot of goals and not concede. We have to chase that perfection.
“We are happy with what we’re doing, but it’s September. We have to try and improve all the time.”
While Mourinho acknowledged the meeting with City carries an extra significance, he warned against placing too much on the outcome of the match.
“It’s one more game, it’s three more points,” the Portuguese manager said.
“We don’t play against them. We play against 19 teams and, for the title, it’s not just City.
“There are other teams in this race. It’s not a situation of Chelsea or City, City or Chelsea. Other clubs have the same ambition.”
Diego Costa will start despite Mourinho admitting the striker is currently being managed carefully to protect a hamstring problem. —
The Pope is said to be recovering from a lung inflammation
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