Vincent Kompany admitted on Saturday night’s Match Of The Day that Manchester City’s more adventurous approach this season leaves their defenders with extra work to do; but his manager, Manuel Pellegrini, has promised that attack will remain the name of the game for City in their crucial trip to free-scoring Liverpool on Sunday.
The Anfield showdown will bring together the Premier League’s two most potent sides but though a draw might not be a bad result for City – it would leave them four points behind Liverpool with two games in hand – Pellegrini stressed they would be going out to win. “Maybe I am wrong but I always think in the same way as a manager – if you play to draw you will lose, so we are going to play to win,” he said. “Of course after the game if we couldn’t win the game and we draw, it’s a good result, but we are not going to play against Liverpool thinking we must draw. We don’t know how to play in that way.”
Pellegrini said he was “happy for football” that both title challengers employ an entertaining style. And he denied he would repeat the more cautious approach he adopted against Barcelona in the Champions League first leg at the Etihad, putting that down to the fact that “the away goal is very important” in European ties.
City have won five and drawn one of their last six league fixtures and Pellegrini said: “I think the best way to win games is to score goals. Maybe at the beginning we conceded too many goals; in the second half of the season we have improved in defence and are at the moment a very balanced team.”
Saturday’s match offered a case in point: while Southampton had 56 per cent of possession, they were limited to just one shot on target. At the other end, City were far from their fluent best but did enough to win 4-1 – an ominous sign for their title rivals. They also had luck on their side, with David Silva yards offside before setting up Samir Nasri’s pivotal second goal. Not a bad mix of ingredients at a stage of the season when all that matters is the result.