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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Football

Pellegrini sets City away-day target
AFP
Manchester, December 02, 2013
First Published: 08:24 IST(2/12/2013)
Last Updated: 08:26 IST(2/12/2013)

Manuel Pellegrini has challenged his Manchester City side to take maximum points from their two away games at West Bromwich Albion and Southampton as the wealthy Premier League club close in on Arsenal at the top of the table.

Arsene Wenger's league leaders are the next visitors to City's Etihad Stadium after the Blues moved to within six points of first place in a 3-0 home victory over Swansea on Sunday.

But first, City must negotiate two testing away fixtures and improve on a record that has already seen them lose four times on their travels this season.

Pellegrini has set his players the goal of being top, or at least within three points of that position, by the first day of 2014 and concedes that the coming week, and those two away games, will be crucial in achieving that target.

"It's a big challenge. West Brom are a strong team playing at home," the City manager said. "I hope now we can start winning away.

"I repeat, we deserve to have won some of those games we have lost. But in this week, we have two away games and six points, we must try and win all of them if we want to be fighting for the Premier League," the Chilean added.

"I can answer the question of whether we can do that (be top) after these two away games.

"I have a lot of trust in this team. We have to play six more Premier League games during December and we hope we can do it. It will be very important for us."

A superb free-kick from Alvaro Negredo and two second-half goals from a resurgent Samir Nasri made sure City maintained the only 100% home record in professional English football this season.

The seven home league victories recorded by Pellegrini's side have seen them score 29 times, with 25 goals in the last five home matches in league and cup.

Nasri's two goals were the highlight of the latest victory and the Frenchman is clearly flourishing under Pellegrini in a way he failed to do under his predecessor Roberto Mancini.

"I think Samir played very well, especially the second half," said Pellegrini. "He also played very well in the Champions League. He is playing free, he is happy and he feels he's again an important player. The way we play maybe is very comfortable for him also.

"All of you know that he is a big player. He played before I arrived at City for three or four years and he played in the Champions League. He is a very, very good player. Now he is again playing the way he knows how to play."

Pellegrini, who dismissed reports from Spain that Real Madrid are considering a bid for his forward Sergio Aguero in the January transfer window, may be able to recall influential defender Vincent Kompany for the visit to West Brom on Wednesday if the Belgian international comes through training sessions beforehand.

For Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, a strong first half showing was no consolation after an emphatic loss and he echoed Pellegrini's thoughts that the league is City's for the taking if they sort out their problems away from their Eastlands fortress.

"At home, City are the best team right now," said Laudrup. "At the start of the season, they were one of my two favourites to win the title, along with Chelsea. Now, it all depends what they do away from home."


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