Manchester City v Liverpool: Manuel Pellegrini predicts 'five or six teams will fight until the end' in Premier League title race

The top five are separated by just two points

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini knows the Boxing Day battle with Liverpool will be one of many rounds in a Premier League title fight which has plenty of twists and turns to come.

City remain firmly in contention following a 4-2 win at Fulham last Saturday which took them one point behind Liverpool, who in Luis Suarez have the championship's in-form striker.

Suarez's sparkling form is highlighted by his continued excellence in the absence of City's Sergio Aguero, who has a calf injury and could be out for up to eight weeks.

Pellegrini, whose side beat Arsenal 6-3 in their most recent home match, expects a fierce examination of his troops against the resurgent Reds, who won 5-0 at Tottenham in their most recent away game.

"Very difficult," Pellegrini said.

"Liverpool is a very good team and Suarez is in a very good moment.

"But I think this Premier League, we are just finishing the first half, in two more games.

"And this Premier League will not just be Liverpool and Manchester City. Five or six teams will fight until the end."

Aguero is not the only frontline City player absence - hamstring injuries for right-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards mean Gael Clichy could again be asked to play on his 'wrong' flank - but Pellegrini is confident he has the strength in depth to manage.

"We have a really strong squad with real quality players, who can cope with all the matches, without our injured players and players that can't play," he added.

City have conceded five goals in two matches, leading some to question their resilience in a title battle which will likely go to the wire.

But Pellegrini is adamant the 2012 champions' approach will not change, even though opponents may adopt an ultra-cautious approach in an effort to stifle his side.

"I think they (opponents) have changed already but I think we try to solve the different problems put to our team," Pellegrini added.

"The way in football is to score goals, that is why people pay for their tickets.

"Fans are always trying to celebrate the goals of their teams.

"That is very important, I think it is the best way to win.

"As much as you can. Maybe sometimes winning 1-0 is a very good goal, and that goal is three points more.

"But if you are playing well, why would you change if you are winning by two goals?

"If you are winning by two, why don't you continue the same way?"

James Milner attributed the win at Fulham, who fought back from two down to level at 2-2 with 20 minutes remaining, to City's strength of character.

The England midfielder insists the full squad will be required in the coming weeks, with matches in such close proximity.

He told mcfc.co.uk: "We're going to have a lot of games, a lot of games through Christmas and when you look at January it's just the same, because we're doing well in the competitions.

"It's not going to take 11 men to win trophies this year, it's going to take the full squad and we need to make sure whoever comes on the field, one to 25, does the job."

Milner and Jesus Navas came off the substitutes' bench to score at Fulham, providing a boost entering the Liverpool contest.

Navas said: "We feel very, very strong and we know that if we work like this we are going to get good results."

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea