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Saturday 22 October 2016

Manuel Pellegrini happy with clean sheet but rues dropped points at Leicester

Published 29/12/2015 | 23:21

Manuel Pellegrini hailed Manchester City's defending at the King Power Stadium
Manuel Pellegrini hailed Manchester City's defending at the King Power Stadium

Manuel Pellegrini was happy with Manchester City's first clean sheet without Vincent Kompany this season despite the goalless draw against Leicester extending his side's winless away run in the Barclays Premier League.

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Kompany returned from injury as a substitute on Boxing Day but soon limped off again and faces another three to four weeks out due to a fresh problem with the same calf.

With Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala yet to keep a clean sheet prior to Tuesday, some City fans may have feared the worst facing the league's joint-highest scorers without their captain.

However, the expensive and often criticised central defensive pairing produced an accomplished display at the King Power Stadium, keeping Leicester's top scorer Jamie Vardy quiet for much of the game, while the Foxes' other danger man Riyad Mahrez was also reduced to a bit-part role.

Pellegrini refuted claims City had come for a draw, though.

He said: "I think we are returning to a very solid and consistent team, which is important.

"One of the good things about tonight is that we kept a clean sheet after many games without. But I am not happy because we came here to try to win the game.

"We went for the three points and I think that we had more possession than Leicester and more attempts and did more things to win the game.

"But of course if you can't win then it is very important you don't lose and we were a very solid and consistent team defending against a very difficult team like Leicester who have players in a very good moment and that always scores goals.

"I am not happy but not disappointed also because I think we played well but we couldn't score."

The result leaves City third in the table, three points behind leaders Arsenal and second-placed Leicester.

Pellegrini's side remain without an away win in six league outings since a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace on September 12 but he expects City to challenge for the title.

He said: "I said when we lost to Arsenal that we prove a lot. We lost that game so it is very difficult when you don't win to say good things but we are in a very good position.

"We are going to be involved to the end in the fight for the league. We are in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and through in the Champions League so I don't think it is important to split it into home and away. We are very strong at home.

"I don't think in December you can say who will be in the frame to win the title. At the end of January after six or seven more games maybe we can see more which teams will be involved."

Leicester lost their 10-game unbeaten record with a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool on Boxing Day, leaving some observers to wonder if their challenge at the top was about to falter.

But Claudio Ranieri's team silenced their critics with another superb performance as they more than held their own against Pellegrini's men.

Ranieri said: "I think we made a very good match. It was difficult but we played well, we created some chances.

"I wanted to see how my players responded after the Liverpool defeat and they responded well.

"This league is very crazy. I think the big teams have to stay at a high level, but sometimes it means nobody wants to win the league - it's very strange this league.

"It's not easy for us but we want to fight with everybody. It's a miracle what we're doing

"I'd love this to continue but it's not easy. I'd like my players to continue to fight like today. It's fantastic.

"I can only say well done to our players and our fans are unbelievable, they support us and they push us."

Press Association

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