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."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week