Pellegrini calm as City close in
Published 06/05/2014 | 17:37
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini claims nothing has changed in the title race even though his side have now become overwhelming favourites.
City can move two points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League, with just a game to play, if they beat Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
City's position has been enhanced after Liverpool squandered a chance to apply considerable pressure on Monday night.
The Reds surrendered a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace, a result which cost them the chance to move three points ahead.
Pellegrini said: "We prepare exactly the same as we prepare for all the games during the year.
"We know the next game is the most important game.
"We are not going to win the Premier League tomorrow if we win. We must win tomorrow and then we will see what happens on Sunday.
"All the teams are under pressure but if we play at home as we did so far, I hope we can win the game."
Pellegrini does not accept the claim of his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers that the race is now effectively over, even though the initiative is now clearly with City.
He said: "I really don't know what Brendan said. I only know we have two games and we have to win the game against Aston Villa.
"At the end of the week we will see which team has more points."
Pellegrini, speaking at a press conference to preview the visit of Villa, even claimed he did not watch Liverpool's dramatic late capitulation against Palace, when they conceded three times in the last 11 minutes.
When asked about the result, he said: "I feel it is just one result more in the Premier League.
"In the Premier League it is very difficult to win the games.
"You cannot be sure you are winning until the end, until the last minute."
Pellegrini sees the performance of Palace, who had already achieved their aim of avoiding relegation, as proof that there can be no room for complacency against Villa.
Paul Lambert's side are also now guaranteed to be in the top flight next season.
"Maybe Crystal Palace didn't have anything to fight for but they were a very strong team and I am sure Aston Villa will be a very strong team for us," said Pellegrini, whose side lost at Villa Park in September.
Lambert insists his side head City with the intention of playing to win despite there being little riding on the outcome for them.
Few expect either Villa, or Sunday's visitors to Manchester West Ham, to be able to prevent City winning their second title in three years.
With Villa's safety secured by last weekend's win over Hull the general feeling is they will not be in much of a mood to put up a fight but Lambert said that assumption would be wrong.
"We're not going there just to make up the numbers, we're going there to try to win," he said.
"You have to run a lot and run without the ball. We're going to have to work really hard without the ball but you also know you've got to try to win the game and that's what we're going to try and do.
"We'll go there now in a lot better place than we were before the Hull game."
Villa left it uncomfortably late to secure their own future with safety coming in the penultimate game just when it appeared they could get sucked into a last-day relegation battle.
Their players have been under a different pressure to City's for some weeks now but Lambert has been pleased with the spirit they have shown to get themselves out of trouble with a match to spare.
"It was major pressure. It was excruciating at times. They showed character, grit and determination to see a game through when it really mattered," said the Villa boss.
"You have to give them credit too. They are the ones in the dressing room who have to go out and perform."
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