Pellegrini determined to blow Gunners out of the title race
Manuel Pellegrini has agreed that he can all but eliminate Arsenal from the Premier League title race with victory over Arsène Wenger's side at the Emirates today.
It was a scintillating 6-3 win over the Gunners in December that marked City out as champion class and first raised questions about Arsenal's claims.
But Pellegrini will never say never to anything, and in response to the idea of Wenger's players losing today and still taking the title, he refused to take anything for granted.
"Mathematics always have a chance of happening," he said. "There can be an option."
To the notion of his players "smelling" success now, he was equally unforthcoming. "All the smelling or thinking doesn't matter. This is the best way," he replied.
City's chances will be enhanced if, as Pellegrini said, David Silva is fit for the game, having been unable to fulfil a sponsorship commitment on Thursday with an ankle injury.
Sergio Aguero, along with Matija Nastasic, will miss the trip to the Emirates through injury, but the manager raised the prospect of Aguero being fit for the crucial visit to Anfield in two weeks, as he may be training next week.
Pellegrini offered support to Wenger after a week in which the 2-2 draw against Swansea and 6-0 defeat at Chelsea saw the Frenchman criticised once more.
Persevering with the same manager for 17 years was "a good way of working – the best way," the Chilean said.
"Maybe one of the most difficult things for a manager is to stay so many years. It's good for a manager to stay so many years. That's why I have respect for Arsène Wenger because 17 years in the same club is not easy," he said.
Pellegrini has also backed Yaya Toure to be named Footballer of the Year, describing him as one of the "best midfielders in the world".
While Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Chelsea's Eden Hazard have emerged as leading contenders for the honour, but Toure has bagged 21 goals from midfield. And Pellegrini believes that by leading City to the title, Toure can secure the gong.
"Yaya has had a very good season so far and we hope he can continue," Pellegrini said. "Hopefully we win the title and then he can be the best player. I don't want to compare him with anyone – both Yaya and Suarez have had amazing seasons so far.
"Yaya is one of the best midfielders in the world and it doesn't matter if he's European, African or South American. He has a chance to be there with the best players in the world."
Midfielder Samir Nasri is expecting a hostile reception at the Emirates, having spent three years with the Gunners before leaving to join City.
"I don't expect to be welcomed with open arms by the crowd but hopefully that's because they were disappointed to see me leave and perhaps at some point they loved me.
"When I am on the pitch I don't focus on opposition fans." (© Independent News Service)
ARSENAL V MANCHESTER CITY,
LIVE, SKY SPORTS 1, 5.30