MANCHESTER City boss Manuel Pellegrini has targeted the Premier League showdown against Chelsea on Saturday week as a must-win game after yesterday’s defeat by Arsenal.
Arsenal’s first win at The Etihad since 2010 was built on stifling City’s midfield and hitting the hosts on the break. When chasing the game after falling behind to Santi Cazorla’s first-half penalty, City badly missed the power of Yaya Toure, as Olivier Giroud wrapped up the points with a second after the break.
Toure was at his marauding best in the final weeks of 2014, scoring six goals in eight games as champions City closed an eight-point gap to Chelsea in the Premier League.
Since he departed for the African Cup of Nations, however, City have lost momentum, drawing 1-1 with Everton last week before yesterday’s reverse, a defeat that left them five points behind Chelsea.
Pellegrini can only hope Toure is not detained too long in Equatorial Guinea, although it would be a major surprise if he was back in time for the clash at Stamford Bridge.
“We didn’t play a very good game. We ran a lot, we had a lot of possession, but we didn’t have creative ideas to try to find the space against a team that defended very well,” Pellegrini said.
“We conceded two goals from set pieces. Yaya Toure is a very important player for us, but we played without Sergio Aguero and now we must play without Yaya.
“The game at Stamford Bridge is a very important game. We must close the gap to two points,” he said.
“I hope that we are going to recover and play in the way we have so far, except for this game.”