City boss pleased with Palace rout despite injuries

Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring the third goal for Manchester City on Jan 17, 2016.
Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring the third goal for Manchester City on Jan 17, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini believes the all-round strength of his squad could have a key role to play in the second half of the season, after seeing his side re-ignite their Premier League title challenge with a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Saturday's match at the Etihad saw City score four goals in a game for the eighth time this season as they reinforced their position as the top scorers at home (33).

Sergio Aguero signalled his return to something like top form with a brace and killed off the tie by laying on the fourth for David Silva.

But Pellegrini took particular delight in securing such an emphatic victory after starting without a number of City's key players.

"We have to play so many games in January, it is very important to have the whole squad involved in what we are doing if you want to continue being a competitive team in all the competitions," the City manager explained.

"To make five changes and to win the way we did today I think will be very useful for the future," added the Chilean, as City finished the day in second place, a point behind leaders Leicester - although both clubs could end the weekend behind Arsenal depending on the result of the Gunners' match at Stoke yesterday.

Pellegrini rested Yaya Toure, who came off the bench in the second half and had a hand in Aguero's second goal, which made it 3-0 to kill off any prospect of a Palace comeback.

Raheem Sterling was an unused substitute and City also managed without the injured trio of Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Wilfried Bony.

Pellegrini, whose side also kept a third successive clean sheet, said: "Of course if I have all my players 100 per cent fit, our squad would be strong. But if not, I trust absolutely the other players.

"You see today and against Everton, we didn't have any problem with (Nicolas) Otamendi and (Martin) Demichelis. Both of them played well, but of course we need Vincent also."

Midfielder Fabian Delph, making his first league start since Dec 21, opened the scoring with a long-range effort that Wayne Hennessey should have kept out.

Palace manager Alan Pardew accepted that the goalkeeper was under pressure for his place, after the Wales international's second high-profile mistake in as many matches. His error on Tuesday gave Aston Villa a 1-0 win.

"Wayne needed to respond today and made another mistake," said Pardew. "I need to see a reaction from him. I will give him that chance because he deserves it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'City boss pleased with Palace rout despite injuries'. Print Edition | Subscribe