Updated: Wednesday, 29th January 2020 @ 3:20pm

'It's not a decisive game': Pellegrini shy on Arsenal tie importance as Aguero returns

'It's not a decisive game': Pellegrini shy on Arsenal tie importance as Aguero returns

| By Jack Marshall

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is hopeful of having a fit-again Sergio Aguero in his match-day squad for the Citizens’ trip to North London to face Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday evening.

Pellegrini confirmed that while captain Vincent Kompany, Fernando, and Samir Nasri were still sidelined, the Argentine striker was in line for a return to the team following a three-week layoff with a heel complaint.

In spite of tweeting a nonchalantly disarming message to fans following the knock sustained against Southampton in late November, Aguero has missed four matches.

“Kun is working with the squad without problems,” said the 62-year-old Chilean coach.

“We’ll assess him to see if he’s 100% to start the game but I think he’ll be in the squad on Monday.

“Pablo Zabaleta continues without working, I hope next week he’ll start again. Vincent Kompany, Fernando and Nasri are also out.

“Vincent is improving. I hope next week he’ll start working with the squad.”

With City once again losing top spot in the Premier League to a cavalier Leicester City side, a tough away day at Arsenal will prove a stern test of Pellegrini’s side’s verve and determination to reclaim the title that they have yet to successfully defend.

But in spite of perceived pressures, Pellegrini said: “It’s not a decisive game as after this we have to play 21 games more.

“It’s important to try to be the best team from the first round. It’s a game of six points, to win three and to take three off a rival.

“We must consider Leicester – they are still top of the table. United are just a few points behind us. Tottenham can be involved, so can Liverpool and Crystal Palace.

“We have to play five of the next six away.

“It’s a good target to return to clean sheets and to advance in positions. Playing away is always a bit more difficult."

City winger Jesús Navas has found himself with more minutes on the pitch of late as City navigate their way through a spate of injuries, but the Spanish wide man has yet to register a goal this campaign, and has spoken of his desire to contribute more.

The 2013 summer signing has not scored for City for 63 games – some 15 months – since scoring in a 7-0 Capital One Cup thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday, but said: “The most important thing is to create chances.

“I'm sure I will score eventually. As I said, if I am able to keep creating chances and getting into the right positions, the goals will arrive at some point. 

“I think it is important to add goals to my performances as well as creating chances, but I am happy so far because I've been able to help the team.”

Navas could be in line for a start against Arsenal, if Pelegrini opts to utilize his more pugnacious defensive qualities.

And the Spanish international is under no illusion about the task that awaits Man City come Monday evening.

“It’s going to be a tough one, but we know that in the Premier League every match is difficult,” he said.

“Obviously it’s going to be hard but to win the three points would be very important to keep us within the leading pack.

“It goes without saying that this is a very important game because we are up against a direct rival in the title race and we have to face it thinking that by working hard and playing as we know can we will have options to win.

“This league is very competitive and every team puts you to the test.

“But I think we are very well positioned – in every competition we are in so we will go there with confidence.

“I think that it is very important to stay focused on Monday because all of Arsenal's players have the capability to make the game hard – but the same applies to our squad.

“It should be a really good game and we are looking forward to it.”

Image courtesy of BBC, via Youtube, with thanks