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.
It was City’s scintillating 6-3 win over the Gunners in December that marked out their championship credentials and first raised questions about Arsenal’s claims.
However, Pellegrini will never say never to anything, and in response to the idea of Wenger’s players losing 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 what his representatives said was an ankle injury.
Sergio Aguero, along with Matija Nastasic, will miss the trip to the Emirates through injury, along with Micah Richards, 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. I think it’s the best way to work.”
Pellegrini said he hoped Yaya Touré would be voted the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year. “I think he’s had a very good season so far. Hopefully we win the [Premier League] title and he can be the best player.”
Samir Nasri, who was at Arsenal for three years, said that the equation for City was now easy. “We know that if we win every game we will be Champions. I don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms by the crowd [at Arsenal] 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.”