Pellegrini plays down City favourites tag

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has denied his side will start as favourites when they head to Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini

Pellegrini's men might be forgiven for swaggering across town with a mighty 12-point advantage over their rivals, and knowing another win will take them a big step closer to reclaiming their Barclays Premier League title.

But Pellegrini, whose first taste of the Manchester derby brought a thumping 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in September, has moved to play down the suggestion that the balance of power is in the process of inexorably shifting to the light-blue half of the city.

Pellegrini said: "I don't think we are favourites in any game. We are in a good moment but we are playing against a big team in their own stadium, so I don't think we are the favourites.

"Of course we always expect to go and win every game but, I repeat, just because Manchester United have had a difficult season it does not mean we are going to win. We have to go there and play a very good game."

City's 5-0 stroll against Fulham on Saturday sent them back into third place, six points behind leaders Chelsea but with three games in hand.

And to add to Pellegrini's options he will have captain Vincent Kompany back to bolster his defence at Old Trafford after the Belgian sat out the win over the Cottagers as he served a one-match suspension for his sending-off at Hull.

Pellegrini is clearly anxious to avoid suggestion of the mind games which so frequently marked the build-up to this fixture when Sir Alex Ferguson was seeking to resist the rise of the so-called "noisy neighbours" in years gone by.

Referring to his side's win in September, Pellegrini said: "Of course it is a special match for the fans because they love winning against Manchester United, but for me all the games are special because you have to get three points.

"It is not my duty to analyse what David Moyes has done at Manchester United. I think everyone knows it was always going to be difficult for him to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, but I don't analyse what he's done."

While Moyes' men will go into the derby in good spirits on the back of successive wins over Olympiacos and West Ham, Pellegrini also believes his side's torrid week against Wigan and Barcelona earlier this month could stand his own side in good stead.

"All of us want to stay in every competition but when you are eliminated one of the positive things - if you can find a positive thing - is that we are now just focusing on the Premier League," added Pellegrini.

"You don't have problems in that sense, mentally or physically. We are just trying to fight for the title. I know we must go game by game and we just have to win on Tuesday and then at Arsenal on Saturday after that."



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