Fewer points to seal title: Pellegrini

LONDON • Rival managers are rarely in agreement. Yet Manuel Pellegrini has backed Arsene Wenger's belief that this season's topsy-turvy Premier League might be secured by fewer than 80 points for the first time this millennium.

Since the competition's inception in 1992, it has happened only three times. The last occasion was 16 years ago, when Manchester United's league title in their Treble-winning campaign of 1998-99 required 79 points.

United also did it two years before, when 75 - the lowest victorious tally - were enough, while Arsenal were crowned champions with 78 points in 1997-98.

"It is a very difficult title to win because the amount of points all the teams have now is not normal," said Manchester City manager Pellegrini, whose side are on 32 points after 16 games, while Arsenal have 33 and United 29.

"You don't have that in every Premier League season. Maybe this season the teams are stronger, maybe the games are closer.

"Every season is different but to win the Premier League this season will be very difficult and take less than 80 points. I don't think the leaders after the first half of the season will have 40 points. It will be one of the closest (yet)."

Last week, Arsenal manager Wenger predicted that a 78-point haul would be enough to win the title this term.

City travel to Arsenal on Monday in a pivotal league clash, and Pellegrini reiterated that becoming champions of England again was his top priority.

"I always think the Premier League is the most important," said the Chilean. "In the Champions League you can have a bad game, go out in the semi-final and nobody remembers what you did.

"The Premier League is the work of the whole year. I always say it must not be an obsession to win the Champions League. It's a very important title and beautiful to do it but you must not try to win that and lose focus on the Premier League."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline 'Fewer points to seal title: Pellegrini'. Print Edition | Subscribe