Pellegrini: We can close gap on Chelsea

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident his side will close the gap to Chelsea.

The champions sit third in the Premier League after six games but trail leaders Chelsea by five points.

Pellegrini accepts that is not ideal but is confident of closing the gap.

The Chilean said: “We are just starting.

“It is not good to be five points behind Chelsea. But in this moment we have one point more than last year. Arsenal was maybe six points ahead of us and we didn’t win the first three games away.

“Things can happen, important things and we will try to continue playing the way we did against Hull.

“If we win tomorrow, yes, I’m happy (with our start). The only game we lost was here against Stoke. It was not in our minds that we could lose that game but that can happen in football.

“I think that in all other games we play very well.”

Pellegrin again refused to comment specifically on criticism aimed at Yaya Toure.

City’s powerhouse midfielder has been below par this term and again failed to make an impression against Roma.

Pellegrini said: “I think that when we play well, it is because the most important players of the team play well and when we play badly, it is because the whole team plays bad.

“I don’t think we should single out one player because I don’t think this team depends on one player.”

On Saturday City come up against a Villa side that excelled in the opening weeks of the season, but have suffered 3-0 defeats to two other title contenders in Arsenal and Chelsea in their last two games.

Pellegrini said: “We have 38 difficult games, some because they are in good moments, some because they are big teams.

“Aston Villa started very well, maybe in the last two games they are not doing so well but I am sure they will be a very difficult team tomorrow.”

Paul Lambert insists Frank Lampard has made Manchester City stronger and believes he is Chelsea’s loss.

The Aston Villa boss reckons Lampard’s arrival has only served to help City, ahead of their visit to Villa Park today.

Lampard is on loan at the Etihad from New York City after leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer and has netted four goals in five games.

The 36-year-old scored twice at Villa Park in May 2013 to break Bobby Tambling’s all-time scoring record for Chelsea.

And Lambert is not surprised at Lampard’s form this season, insisting he is still on top of his game.

He said: “He looks really top-drawer. I don’t know him, but from the outside looking in, everything about him is old-school.

“Him coming in has made (City) stronger, no doubt about it.”

* Russian club CSKA Moscow have been ordered to play their next three home European matches behind closed doors — including against Manchester City in the Champions League on October 21 — as punishment for racist behaviour by fans.

It follows the fans’ conduct in the Russian side’s Champions League defeat by Roma, which led to CSKA being charged with racist behaviour by UEFA for the third time in a year.


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