LONDON • If losing a potentially crucial match in the Premier League title race was not bad enough, Manuel Pellegrini has now had his selection policy called into question by one of his Manchester City players.
Wilfried Bony said he was disappointed to have been dropped for Monday's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal , intimating that it was wrong Sergio Aguero came in for him given the Argentinian had been sidelined for some time with an injury.
Bony had started in three of City's four matches after Aguero injured a heel in the 3-1 win against Southampton on Nov 28 and scored three times. His most recent goal came against his former club Swansea in City's last match before they travelled to the Emirates.
The 28-year-old expected he would retain his place but was instead on the bench, with Aguero starting as the visitors' lone forward. The Argentina striker looked rusty and it came as no surprise when he was replaced by Bony on 63 minutes.
DESERVED A PLACE
I'm disappointed that I didn't start. I'm not the coach. The coach does what he thinks is best for the team.
WILFRIED BONY, who was dropped against Arsenal
"I'm disappointed that I didn't start," Bony said. "I'm not the coach. The coach does what he thinks is best for the team.
"He just has to choose 11 players.
"So when I come on, I just try to do my best to try to score or to give an assist to the other players to score to help the team to win."
Asked if he thought he deserved to have started, Bony replied: "I think so."
It was then put to the Ivorian that Aguero's return for such a high-profile match was understandable given his talents and track record, to which the 27-year-old added somewhat bluntly: "He is coming back from injury. He hasn't played for a couple of weeks."
Bony's disgruntlement is something Pellegrini may have to address before City's Boxing Day home game with Sunderland given the player could be required to start if Aguero, as appears the case, remains short of match fitness.
The City manager admitted as much yesterday in his press conference, saying: "Sergio was ready to play (on Monday) - he needed minutes. Maybe for three or four games, he won't play 90 minutes as he's coming back."
City's injury list is shortening for the Chilean, however, and Vincent Kompany could return against Sunderland. The captain has been out of action since early November with a calf strain.
"Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando are all fit and training normally," added Pellegrini. "We'll see the starting XI on Saturday - I have not decided on the team for the game yet. Only Samir Nasri is not fit."