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City boss wants to finish 2013 on a high

Manuel Pellegrini has now watched his side score 25 goals on their way to seven wins out of eight games in a stunning December for the Blues.

After defeating two different league leaders and the European champions, City have become most pundits and ex-pros favourites for the Premier League title but the relentless Chilean has warned his team against complacency when Crystal Palace come to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes under their new manager Tony Pulis and Pellegrini has urged his side not to miss this chance to lead the Premier League - for 24 hours at least.

“It’s a different challenge – maybe everyone thinks it will be an easy game but I think that all of the teams fighting against relegation are very tough to play against,” Pellegrini asserted.

“We must try to recover as soon as we can from the Liverpool game and try to get into our best shape. We’ll see what happens but I don’t think it will be an easy game.

“Not only because they have changed manager, every team in the league is tough to play against.

...Manuel Pellegrini...


“It is an important challenge but Crystal Palace also played 48 hours before, exactly the same as us. 

"So I think both teams will be a little bit tired but the second day is the worst day for the players.“

The 60-year has hinted that Pablo Zabaleta will be given the afternoon off when the Londoners come to town after the Argentine full-back defied expectations to start against Liverpool.

Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis and Micah Richards also remain sidelined but the City boss is confident that his team have enough quality to claim another three points – despite the lack of recovery time after Boxing Day.

“I think they need 72 hours to recover and in this case they are not going to get it, so we will see what kind of game we are going to play but it will not be like this [Liverpool] again,” Pellegrini argued.

"We will see how difficult it is for Martin but I don’t think he will be out for long. It’s a hamstring injury, but Nastasic is now ready.

“At this moment we have 20 players and the 20 players must be ready to play on Saturday. We will see which of them will start.

...Manuel Pellegrini...


“I think that Pablo is difficult, too high risk to repeat again. The Liverpool game was a risk for him and I think repeating again in 48 hours is not possible.”

There was one boost for supporters with Pellegrini hinting that Stevan Jovetic may be in contention for a place on the bench after his lengthy injury lay-off.

“He (Jovetic) is an important player for us as Aguero is out and we can’t play every game with Negredo and Dzeko,” said City's Chilean boss.

“That is why we split them, as we have to play Crystal Palace, then again Wednesday and Saturday."

“Jovetic will be important, we hope, and can recover soon. We hope in the second half of the season he will do well.”

We’ll have text and audio coverage in our Match Day Centre here on mcfc.co.uk before the game, as well as post-match reaction, tunnel cam and highlights in the evening after the match.

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