Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists his side can handle the pressure of trying to sustain a successful defence of their Barclays Premier League crown.
City slipped to third after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at West Ham, but they are only six points off leaders Chelsea after Robin van Persie’s dramatic stoppage time equaliser earned Manchester United a 1-1 draw against them on Sunday.
After a midweek Capital One Cup tie against Newcastle, City will host rivals United next in the league at the Etihad Stadium.
Pellegrini stressed it is too early to talk about who will win the title and said his side will just carry on in the manner which saw them hunt down both Liverpool and Chelsea over the run-in last season.
“The pressure is to win the title, the pressure is to retain the title. My pressure, I think, is the best pressure for me,” the Chilean said.
“We are in the third position of the table in this moment. We must continue playing as champions.
“Nothing happened (was decided) today (at West Ham), in a game where we had four, five clear chances to score.”
Pellegrini believes his side face no different challenges this season, despite the fact that they represent an even bigger scalp now they are defending champions.
“It is always hard to play in the Premier League,” he said.
“To defend the title, to try to win the title it is always very hard because all the games are very tough.
“We must continue working in the same way we are doing in the last year-and-a-half.
“At this moment we are defending better than at the same moment last season, but I think we must improve because we are conceding in this game one or two goals, which I think is too much.
“When I am talking about defence, I am talking about the whole team, I am not talking about one individual player.”
While Pellegrini maintains no-one can “know what will happen in the future”, the City boss admits Chelsea look “very strong”.
“We have 87 points more (to play for) to try and continue adding more points to our team,” Pellegrini said.
“It is not only Chelsea, (but also) Arsenal, so we will see what they do in the future.
“At the final (game), the team that wins more points will be the champion.”
In the meantime Pellegrini intends to focus fully on the Newcastle cup tie rather than next weekend’s Manchester showdown.
“We are first thinking about Newcastle on Wednesday. When we finish Newcastle, we think about Man United,” he added.
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