Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has called on his team to shore up at the back or face defeat to Saturday’s Premier League opponents Aston Villa.
City had led Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Roma before Francesco Totti’s leveller while they also sacrificed a two-goal lead in the league last weekend against Hull City before eventually triumphing 4-2.
The Blues have kept just two clean sheets so far this season, but now face a Villa side who have managed more points (10) than shots on target (nine).
“We must concentrate more on defending because we need a clean sheet,” the Chilean told reporters. “In the last three games we conceded five goals.”
That streak caused the 61-year-old to drop England number one Joe Hart for Willy Caballero for City’s last league game against Hull, but was angered by questions about which keeper would start against Villa.
“Why you always ask me about goalkeeper, not the full back or midfielders?” Pellegrini said. “It’s important for the squad to have competition and rotation in every position.”
The City boss is well aware of the threat posed by his opponents on Saturday, having lost 3-2 in a mediocre display at Villa Park last September.
“After that we improved a lot playing away and I hope playing those games last season will be good experience,” he said.
“Tomorrow we can play with 100% concentration and intensity that you need to win those games.”
The champions welcome back Fernando and Matija Nastasic from injury, while Sergio Aguero will be ‘100% fit’ for the encounter.
The trip to Villa Park will also see James Milner, enjoying a run of starts in the first team of late, return to the club where he made his name.
“I loved every minute of my time with Villa,” the England international told the club’s official website.
“The fans were great to me and we were unfortunate not to win a trophy and get into the Champions League.”
City’s Champions League hopes took a body blow during the week when they drew with Roma, leaving them on just one point after two games, but Milner remains optimistic.
“We’re in every competition to win it,” he said. “Last year we were in the hunt for everything and we want to get to that stage again where we are in the hunt for all four trophies.”
Main image courtesy of Alex Morton/Action Images, with thanks.