Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has allayed fears over yet another injury to star-striker Sergio Aguero, insisting the Argentine came off as a ‘precaution’ in Saturday’s win over Southampton.
Having lost their previous two matches against Liverpool and Juventus, Pellegrini’s bruised side came into the Premier League bout against Ronald Koeman’s stuttering Saints side in dire need of a rejuvenated performance.
The home side’s response was impressive, with Kevin De Bruyne – one of the few bright sparks of a capricious City season so far – putting the Citizens ahead before a deflected Fabian Delph shot trickled past Maarten Stekelenburg to give the England international his first goal for the club.
Southampton powered back into contention through a Shane Long header as Koeman’s chastised side emerged from the half-time break with far more intent, but a killer goal from Aleksandar Kolarov following a slick passing move between Wilfried Bony, De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling saw City run out comfortable winners at the Etihad Stadium.
“It was not an easy week – we’ve won just one point of our last six so it was important to beat a difficult team who were unbeaten away,” said Pellegrini.
“I was very pleased with the team’s reaction.
“We were a little nervous until the third goal, but I’m happy with the performance and the result. We played on Wednesday a very difficult game and we didn’t have 72 hours to recover from that game – Southampton had the whole week.
“The third goal of Alex fortunately killed the game for us – maybe we didn’t have a good week but we continue in the Champions League, the Capital One Cup and the Premier League.
“If you want to be involved in the title race you cannot drop more points at home.”
In spite of a stop-start campaign for City so far, the manager was clear in his support for his side’s trajectory, insisting: “It’s not a crisis – it’s a very good season.”
City’s jubilation at the win was temporarily stymied by rekindled fears over the fitness of Aguero, who was substituted in the 63rd minute with slight concerns over a potential niggle, but Pellegrini was emphatic in his response, saying: “Kun came off as a precaution.
“I spoke with him before the game and we said he would play 65 minutes. He has a kick in his heel, but nothing important,” the Chilean said.
“He has played three games in a row and that’s why he came off – it’s important to see with the medical staff how he recovers from this game.”
City face Championship outfit Hull City in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, with Steve Bruce’s side having slipped off top spot in the wake of a 2-0 loss to Derby County on Friday night.
Pellegrini said: “We must try to recover the players for Tuesday. It’s important for us to reach the semi-final of the League Cup.”
Image courtesy of Manchester City FC via YouTube, with thanks.