x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Pellegrini says Manchester City driven by thought of revenge this season

Key players such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure failed to reach the levels they had in the 2011/12 campaign during a fractious final year under Roberto Mancini.

Alvaro Negredo is set to return for Manchester City. Simon Bellis / AP Images
Alvaro Negredo is set to return for Manchester City. Simon Bellis / AP Images

MANCHESTER // Manuel Pellegrini says he believes Manchester City are fuelled by feelings of revenge and have channelled their hurt at underachieving last season to propel them to new heights this one.

City, who were English Premier League champions in 2011/12, finished 11 points behind Manchester United last season and were beaten by Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final last May.

Key players such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure failed to reach the levels they had in the 2011/12 campaign during a fractious final year under Roberto Mancini.

Pellegrini said: “Maybe they were hurt by what happened last season. They needed to demonstrate again what kind of players they are. Of course I think they want revenge.”

Their response has been eloquent. City are competing for four trophies and scoring at an unparalleled rate. They go to Tottenham Hotspur tonight having already beaten Spurs 6-0 in November and having scored 110 goals in all competitions, 17 more than they did in the whole of last season.

Aguero, who struck 17 times last term, has 25 goals in 24 games under Pellegrini and will be reunited in attack with Alvaro Negredo at White Hart Lane.

The two strikers have scored 25 goals in 12 starts together, but they have not been paired in the Premier League since December’s 6-3 win over Arsenal, when the Argentine sustained a calf injury.

Negredo, who picked up a shoulder injury in last week’s 3-0 win over West Ham United, has been passed fit to return, demoting a third in-form striker, Edin Dzeko, to the bench.

A fourth who is in the goals and has City ties will be in the Spurs side: Emmanuel Adebayor, who left the Etihad Stadium in 2012 and has six goals in eight games under new coach Tim Sherwood.

Pellegrini added: “It is always important to have a striker [like] Adebayor in a good moment, so I am sure we are going to have a very tough game against them.”

City conceded twice to Championship side Watford on Saturday, and captain Vincent Kompany argued their willingness to surge forward can leave their back four exposed.

However, Pellegrini insisted: “Maybe you don’t believe me, but we work more at defending than attacking. It’s my opinion and maybe I am wrong, but I think this team defends very well.”

Not everyone shares that view. What is beyond dispute is that Tottenham defended poorly at the Etihad Stadium, when they suffered their heaviest league defeat for 17 years.

Since then, the manager has changed and they have very different personnel, with Adebayor symbolising the regime change at White Hart Lane.

The prospect of Uefa Champions League football, rather than thoughts of revenge, will inspire them, Pellegrini said.

“The great motivation for Tottenham is in the position they are in in the table,” he said.

City go to London without injured midfielders James Milner and Javi Garcia while Nasri, a regular scourge of Spurs, is still absent but should be fit to face Barcelona on February 18.

Pellegrini confirmed: “Next week Samir will start running, and in two or three weeks he will be fit.”

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