Manchester City vs Chelsea: Manuel Pellegrini admits early-season clash is a must-win after Bayern Munich loss

Pellegrini believes going eight points behind Chelsea at this stage of the season is not possible

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Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini sees this weekend's early-season clash with title rivals Chelsea as a 'must-win' encounter.

Pellegrini's men are just four games into their Barclays Premier League title defence, but already trail leaders Chelsea by five points.

The thought of falling eight points behind by losing at the Etihad Stadium is one Pellegrini does not want to contemplate.

Recent results do not make good reading for City, who have not won in three in all competitions, but Pellegrini is focusing on turning statistics in his favour with a victory.


The Chilean said: "I always try to think of positives, so I hope we are not going to lose and we not going to go eight points behind Chelsea.

"I think we were unlucky in the last two games - against Bayern Munich in the way we lost with that goal and against Arsenal we deserved to win the three points.

"But things happen. We must win our next game at home and with that we will be two points behind the leader.

"That for me will be a very good start after playing Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. That is why it is important to win on Sunday."

City will need to find a way to halt Chelsea's in-form striker Diego Costa, who has hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge.

The £32million Spain international has scored seven in his first four Premier League appearances, including a hat-trick against Swansea last weekend.

Another summer signing, Cesc Fabregas, has also made a big impression and quickly built up a dangerous understanding with Costa.

Pellegrini said: "They have very good players and they are in a very good moment, so we have to play a very good game if we want to win.

"For me it is not a surprise. Last year it was a very strong squad with very good players and this year they have increased their squad, they have more and better players.

"But there is a long way to go, it is just four games and we play 38. We will see what happens in future.

"I think that we didn't start badly. Maybe the game we lost here against Stoke that was an unusual game, but we hope we recover here, playing at home, and get three points on Sunday."

Pellegrini, as is usually the case, refused to be drawn into speaking about Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho when he spoke to media at his press conference to preview the match.

Pellegrini and Mourinho have a rivalry dating back to when the latter succeeded the former as Real Madrid boss in 2010.

"It is nothing important," the Chilean said. "Every time you ask me the same question when we play against Mourinho.

"I don't have any problem with him. This profession - we manage in different ways and nothing more. Nothing important."

City are still without striker Stevan Jovetic and midfielder Fernando due to injury, but Pellegrini is planning to unleash Sergio Aguero.

Sergio Aguero is likely to start against Chelsea

The Argentina forward has been used only sparingly this term as he is eased back into action following a series of muscle injuries in the second half of last season, including the World Cup.

Aguero has found the net three times this season, but played only 16 minutes in the Champions League loss at Bayern Munich in midweek.

Pellegrini said: "He is very important. Maybe Sergio in this moment is not ready to play three games in one week (of) 90 minutes.

"That is why I thought it was better for him and the squad not to play 90 minutes against Bayern.

"He is fresh for Sunday and I am sure he will make a difference."