Manchester City will go into tomorrow’s crunch match at Stamford Bridge with a chance to close the gap in the Barclays Premier League to two points with Chelsea missing at least one of their two new recruits this season.
Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas is nursing a hamstring injury and Diego Costa was handed a three match ban following a stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can during their Capital One Cup semi-final last Tuesday.
Mourinho refused to face the media ahead of the crucial clash tomorrow with news of Costa’s ban for violent conduct being upheld following an appeal today.
News of Costa’s exclusion from the game tomorrow would not have gone unnoticed in the City camp after Pellegrini arrived in the media press conference wearing a wide smile.
“I know Diego Costa from Spain. He’s a top player, maybe this will be good for him in the future. He doesn’t have to be this way.
“I don’t think Chelsea will lose their next three games because Diego Costa is not playing – they have Remy and Drogba – both very good players.” he said.
With the additional game in mid-week going to Extra Time before Branislav Ivanovic’s headed winner, Chelsea’s bid to extend their Barclays Premier League lead back to eight points at Stamford Bridge will come up against a Man City side also missing two players – Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure and new signing from Swansea Wilfried Bony after Ivory Coast qualified for the next phase of the African Cup of Nations.
Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany should both be available for tomorrow’s game, and Pellegrini brushed off suggestions that the returning players might not be fully match fit.
“Vincent has returned from a long injury and he needs minutes to be at his best performance. The work we did this week will be useful to him and I hope tomorrow we will not make any mistakes.” said Pellegrini.
Samir Nasri may be fit enough to join the match day squad following a groin injury but admitted that Eliaquim Mangala was struggling with a small shoulder problem but there will be one player who may make the biggest impact of all at Stamford Bridge: Frank Lampard.
The veteran midfielder, who spent 13 trophy laden years at Stamford Bridge, will cause more of a psychological impact amongst the home fans, claimed Pellegrini, than the Chelsea players.
Pellegrini refused to comment on Mourinho even in his absence from media duties today yet still managed to get his message across after discussing the game he expected from Chelsea.
“I expect a very good Chelsea as always, a good defensive team that presses high and is very good in counter attacks.
“We have to stick to our plan – to move the ball around fast and be an offensive team as we are always.
“I always play to win the game. If you play to draw normally you lose.
“The way I do it is the best way for me but it’s not the only way to do it. We all want to win every game but I think the best way to do it is to play the best way in the 90 minutes in a style that is ethical.
“There are so many different managers with different styles of winning in the Premier League on and off the pitch.” added the Chilean.
He also rubbished Mourinho’s claim that there was a campaign against Chelsea by saying that referees did not favour any clubs in the Premier League.
Pellegrini concluded by offering an apology for comparing Chelsea with Stoke, accusing them of playing like “a small team”.
“It was a mistake to compare Chelsea with Stoke. Stoke has another style, I named one team in that moment and they beat us here at the Etihad.
“The style of every club depends on their manager. Chelsea can play in the manner that they want and we will play the way I want us to.
“I think Jose Mourinho is very important manager – he has won many titles during his career in different countries with different teams and they are always strong teams. He has ways to play that makes it more difficult.”