Man City will pay the Costa if stars fail to step up in Toure’s absence, warns Pellegrini

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has challenged his squad to demonstrate their value in Yaya Toure’s absence ahead of their crucial table-top clash with Chelsea on Saturday.

The league champions travel to Stamford Bridge five points behind Mourinho’s side, with Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony absent on Africa Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast.

However, City will not have to worry about facing league top scorer Diego Costa after his three-game ban for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can was upheld.

“[Diego] is a great player,” said Pellegrini. “I hope for him that this punishment will be a good thing for him to change in the future.

“He is an important player for Chelsea. But in this case for Diego or Yaya for our team, big teams with important squads cannot depend on just one player.

“It is a very important miss for both teams but they have other players to replace him. It is up to other players to demonstrate what they can do.”

During 2014 City won only one of six league games without Toure, and know defeat would hand Chelsea a potentially decisive lead in the title race.

Even so, the Chilean manager insisted that should his side lose they can still retain their title.

“It is not the game that will decide the title because after that we have to play 45 points more,” he added.

“If you remember some years ago this club won the title after being eight points behind Manchester United so in football you never know.

“It is important for us to try and close that gap as soon as we can. It is a very important game but it is not a final.”

The fixture will also see Chelsea legend Frank Lampard return to the club where he won the Premier League on three occasions for the first time.

The ex-England international refused to celebrate after scoring the equaliser in the side’s previous meeting and his current boss hopes he can repeat the trick.

“First I prefer him to score the goal,” said his Man City manager. “After that we will see if he celebrates or if he doesn’t celebrate. If he scores, I celebrate.”

“He was a top player for them, maybe the most important in Chelsea history. He gave so many things to that club. If he couldn’t continue playing there, he can play here.

“That is not his fault. I am sure the fans will repeat the reception they gave here to Frank in the first game.”

Image courtesy of BT Sport, via YouTube, with thanks.

Related Articles