English Premiership

Pellegrini eager to reduce the gap

2016-01-15 10:00
Manuel Pellegrini (Supplied)
Manuel Pellegrini (Supplied)

Manchester - It is a signal of Manchester City's inconsistency that they have not managed to string together two successive Premier League victories since mid-October.

Yet it is a sign of the division's unpredictability this season that despite this, Manuel Pellegrini's side remain just three points off the top as they go into Saturday's home match against Crystal Palace.

Wednesday's 0-0 draw at home to mid-table Everton has not proved as costly as it might have done, with leaders Arsenal also dropping points in a 3-3 draw at Liverpool on the same night.

In addition, City kept a second successive clean sheet, suggesting that their defence is finding some semblance of stability in the continued absence of injured captain Vincent Kompany.

Kompany is likely to be out for another month as his club try to get to the root of the calf trouble that has restricted him to just three league starts since City won 1-0 at Palace on September 12.

With fellow centre-back Eliaquim Mangala recovering from a hamstring problem, Pellegrini may continue with Martin Demichelis alongside Nicolas Otamendi, though Bacary Sagna could move across from full-back if required.

Pellegrini has indicated that he will make some changes for the Palace match, which kicks off less than 66 hours after Wednesday's game finished, giving little time for his players to recover.

Playmaker David Silva is likely to be given a more significant role, having been rested altogether for last Saturday's 3-0 FA Cup win at Norwich City before being given a 16-minute run-out as a substitute in mid-week.

For Pellegrini, whose team go into Saturday's game lying third, the priority is to regain the league leadership, although he acknowledges that positions only count for so much at this stage of the season.

"It's important to try to reduce the gap as soon as we can between ourselves and the two leaders, Arsenal and Leicester, but we are not going to win the title in January," he said.

"I think it's important to be solid and a consistent team from now until the end of the season. There are so many examples of teams that had the title in their hands in April, then lost important points and didn't win the title.

"So it's important first to reduce the points gap and after that try to continue in all the competitions we are in, and try to be a solid and consistent team, especially in the Premier League."

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11 December 2016
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion, Stamford Bridge 14:00
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, Old Trafford 16:15
Southampton v Middlesbrough, St. Mary's Stadium 16:15
Liverpool v West Ham United, Anfield 18:30
13 December 2016
Everton v Arsenal, Goodison Park 21:45
AFC Bournemouth v Leicester City, Vitality Stadium 21:45
14 December 2016
West Ham United v Burnley, London Stadium 21:45
Middlesbrough v Liverpool, Riverside Stadium 21:45
Sunderland v Chelsea, Stadium of Light 21:45
Stoke City v Southampton, Britannia Stadium 22:00
Manchester City v Watford, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Crystal Palace v Manchester United, Selhurst Park 22:00
West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City, The Hawthorns 22:00
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