City can still catch Chelsea, says the Chilean, and they can wait for Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony to return from the African Cup of Nations
After a frustrating month for Manchester City in which they stumbled from level with Chelsea to seven points behind, it would be easy to suggest that the team was falling into the same malaise that befell the club the season after they were crowned Premier League Champions 2011/2012 in the most dramatic of circumstances.
The 2012/2013 season saw City lose their title to rivals Manchester United, finishing a distant eleven points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
Certainly, Manuel Pellegrini has insisted that City are not resting on their laurels and admitted that injuries and loss of form to all three strikers have hampered their ambitions this term.
“It’s impossible for me to compare each season because I was not there. This season we are not relaxed. We had a bad month in January but I am sure we will recover.
“I expect more from the strikers because they normally score a lot of goals.
“The big difference between this season and the other seasons is the amount of goals we have scored.
“We also had very long injuries in both calves to Edin Dzeko; Kun Aguero and Stevan Jovetic have also been injured.”
“And we started with three strikers because Alvaro Negredo was injured until November.
“I think the most important thing is the injuries to all three of our strikers. It’s not the same returning from injury than when you are playing every week.
Along with Yaya Toure, new signing Wilfried Bony will not be pressed into action on Wednesday at Stoke as the two Ivorians were not scheduled to return to Manchester until Tuesday after travelling via Ivory Coast following their victorious African Cup of Nations campaign in which they beat Ghana 9-8 on penalties.
“Bony has to sign some papers so he can’t be here without those papers, and both players have played six games in 20 days.” explained Pellegrini.
“They can’t just play on Sunday, fly back from Ivory Coast on Monday and arrive at training on Tuesday to play on Wednesday.
“There is a high risk of an important injury for both of them and I don’t think that we are in so big trouble that we will need them urgently to play on Wednesday.
“They can be important players from after the Stoke game until the end of the season but to play on Wednesday is too high a risk.” he added.
Pellegrini will welcome the addition of Bony to the squad when he finally does meet up with the City squad, however, and he added:
“Bony will be an important player for our team The best performance of the players happens when there is competition within the squad.”
City have experience in winning the title from behind, adding the 2013/2014 title to the Etihad trophy room after recovering an eight point deficit against Liverpool to snatch the Premier League and Pellegrini was sure that City would be there if Chelsea slipped up again this season.
“We did a great month in December, we won a lot of games, qualified for the next round of the Champions League, and reached the top of the table but for some reason in January we didn’t score despite having a lot of possession with a good attitude and running a lot.
“To be seven points behind Chelsea is a disappointment for all of us but it doesn’t mean that we won’t recover the points.
“We have 42 points to fight for. Last season Arsenal had 55 points and Liverpool had 47 points and Liverpool fought for the title until the end.
“Football changes every week, the most important thing is to continue improving the way we play and to score more goals.
“At this moment Chelsea is the leader but you never know what will happen in the next month.”