Sergio Aguero has admitted that Sunday’s Manchester derby has become a battle for fourth place in the Premier League after conceding that Manchester City’s title hopes are as good as over.
City go into the meeting with neighbours United at the Etihad Stadium having fallen 12 points behind leaders Leicester City, albeit with a game in hand on Claudio Ranieri’s team. A victory for Leicester at Crystal Palace on Saturday would further stretch the gap, forcing City to focus on the Champions League as their best hope of adding to their Capital One Cup success this season.
But with United lying in sixth position, four points adrift of Manuel Pellegrini’s team, a City win would virtually kill off any prospects of Old Trafford hosting Champions League football next season.
After spending the early years of his City career locked in direct combat with United for the Premier League title, Aguero admits that the Manchester derby is no longer the seismic battle it once was.
“At one point United were huge,” Aguero said. “City have invested a lot of money to bring in quality players, and that has levelled the playing field. I don’t know what is happening at United, I focus on City and Sunday, we are thinking about winning and nothing else. But for me, all the games are big ones.
“We have to win, even more so because the title is slipping further away and we have to make sure we take fourth place. We want the title, but we have to take into account that United are right behind us and it will be a tough game.”
City will face United without injured captain Vincent Kompany, who could miss the rest of the season after suffering a repeat of his long-term calf problems during the Champions League stalemate against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.
Nicolas Otamendi, who also limped out of the 0-0 draw with a dead leg, expects to be fit in time to face United.Reuse content