City rout sorry Villa to give Pellegrini belief for run-in

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini believes 75 points will be enough to win the Premier League after declaring that his Manchester City side are still firmly in the title race.

City ended a run of three straight league defeats by thrashing bottom club Aston Villa 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

It took the Chilean's fourth-placed team to 50 points, with another 30 still to play for over their final 10 matches.

Leaders Leicester are 10 points clear of City, but Pellegrini feels his players have the experience to overhaul Leicester and title rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal with a dramatic late surge to rival their Premier League triumph in 2014.

The Foxes are seeking their first top-fight title while Spurs and Arsenal are bidding to win their first since 1961 and 2004 respectively.

"All the teams will lose points between now and the end of the season. As you approach the end of the season, the pressure will increase," Pellegrini said. "We have more experience than the other teams, and that will be very important. We need to close that gap.

"We need to beat Norwich next Saturday, and then after that we need to win the next game. It is impossible to guess how many points we need to win this title but I am sure it will be around 75."

Yaya Toure opened the scoring and Raheem Sterling completed the win on Saturday. In between, Sergio Aguero scored twice to take his total for the season to 21.

The Argentinian could have had a hat-trick as Ciaran Clark tripped substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, but his penalty struck the base of the post.

Still, Aguero starred in a City win that was convincing in the end.

The first half was goal-less and frustrating for Pellegrini, who had switched from 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 line-up in an attempt to put early pressure on Villa.

Wilfried Bony made his first start since Boxing Day as he joined Aguero up front.

At the other end, Villa hardly caused the hosts any problems, registering just two shots all match, with one finding the target.

But Villa manager Remi Garde insisted his side can still stay up, even though the gap between the Villans and safety extended to nine points following Sunderland's draw at Southampton.

"Until the end, I will believe we can do it but we have to be realistic," the Frenchman told BBC Sport.

"If we play like we did in the first half here, we have a chance. If we play like we did in the second half, we have no chance."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'City rout sorry Villa to give Pellegrini belief for run-in'. Print Edition | Subscribe