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Friday 18 August 2017

pellegrini: city will come good

Sky Blues boss insists it's too early to write off his stuttering champs

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini claims it is too early to be writing off his side's Champions League prospects.

City have made another faltering start in Europe and face a familiar battle to qualify for the knockout stages after collecting just one point from their opening two group games.

Pellegrini's men were beaten at Bayern Munich and held to a draw by Roma in midweek, meaning their upcoming back-to-back games against CSKA Moscow are likely to be critical.

After disappointments in previous seasons, City are expected to make progress in the competition this term with a quarter-final spot thought to be the minimum requirement.

Pellegrini said: "I think that we didn't play well but we played against a good team that is in a good moment.

"We are just starting the group. I don't think it is the moment to make an evaluation about what we are doing in the group.

"In the moment when we finish the group, we will see. We will analyse what happens in every game."

City are also still to hit their stride in the Premier League.

The champions sit third in the table after six games but trail leaders Chelsea by five points.

Pellegrini accepts that is not ideal but is confident of closing the gap.

The Chilean said: "We are just starting. It is not good to be five points behind Chelsea. But in this moment we have one point more than last year. Arsenal was maybe six points ahead of us and we didn't win the first three games away.

"Things can happen, important things and we will try to continue playing the way we did against Hull.

"If we win tomorrow, yes, I'm happy (with our start). The only game we lost was here against Stoke. It was not in our minds that we could lose that game but that can happen in football.

"I think that in all other games we play very well."

Pellegrini, speaking at press conference to preview this weekend's trip to Aston Villa, again refused to comment specifically on criticism aimed at Yaya Toure (pictured).

City's powerhouse midfielder has been below par this term and again failed to make an impression against Roma.

Pellegrini said: "I think that when we play well, it is because the most important players of the team play well and when we play badly, it is because the whole team plays bad.

"I don't think we should single out one player because I don't think this team depends on one player."

Pellegrini was pleased with his side's attacking performance in last week's 4-2 win at Hull, which was a first Premier League victory in four outings. On Saturday they come up against a Villa side that excelled in the opening weeks of the season, but have suffered 3-0 defeats to two other title contenders in Arsenal and Chelsea in their last two games. Pellegrini said: "We have 38 difficult games, some because they are in good moments, some because they are big teams.

"Aston Villa started very well, maybe in the last two games they are not doing so well but I am sure they will be a very difficult team tomorrow."

City were beaten 3-2 at Villa last season, at a time when they were generally struggling for away form.

That matter has since been addressed with the champions having lost just once in their last 15 away league matches.

Pellegrini said: "I'm very happy with that as it was one of the things we were criticised for last year. "It is very important to try to play the same way we do at home.

"That is what we try to do and I hope tomorrow we continue in the same way.

"I hope the game we played last year in Birmingham will be a good experience and we will try to play tomorrow with 100 per cent concentration and the intensity you need to win the games."

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