Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini frustrated by Leicester stalemate

Manuel Pellegrini expressed his frustration that Manchester City were unable to break down a stubborn Leicester City side but the Chilean saw positives in a rare clean sheet and also backed Sergio Agüero to rediscover his best form in the second half of the season.

In an entertaining goalless draw both sides had chances to score a goal that would have improved their end-of-year position, Leicester to leapfrog Arsenal at the top of the table, Manchester to move above Leicester. Jamie Vardy squandered a golden opportunity just before half-time, while Manchester City, who dominated the early stages, had a decent claim for a penalty turned down in the second half, when Agüero felt that Gokhan Inler tripped him in the area.
Agüero was withdrawn seconds later and looked bitterly disappointed after failing to make much impression on a night when his lack of match sharpness showed and Manchester City’s poor away form continued. Pellegrini’s side last won away in the league on 12 September and they have scored only twice on their travels since that victory over Crystal Palace.

The City manager is confident, however, that Agüero will start firing again soon. “We know Kun after all these years and that he needs two or three games to return to his normal performance. I am sure all these minutes he is playing – that’s why I don’t want him to play more than 60-65 minutes – will be useful to see the best Kun in the second round of the season.”

Pellegrini was entitled to be pleased with the fact that City, at the 18th time of asking this season, finally kept a clean sheet without Vincent Kompany in their starting line-up. The manager confirmed Kompany is likely to be out for a minimum of three to four weeks after lasting only nine minutes against Sunderland on Boxing Day. “Vincent has an injury, a second degree of his calf. It’s not the same injury, the same calf but in a different part. I am not a doctor but normally a muscle injury less than three or four weeks is very difficult, especially in the calf.”

Pellegrini, who refused to get involved in the debate about whether Agüero should have had a penalty, felt that his side took the game to Leicester. “I’m not happy because we came here to try to win the game,” he said. “From the first minute of the game we went for the three points. I think that we had more possession than Leicester, more attempts than Leicester, we did more things to win the game. But of course if you come to win it’s very important not to lose. I think tonight we were very solid and consistent against a difficult team – they have important players in a very good moment and they always score goals. That’s why I am not happy but not disappointed also. I think that we played well but we couldn’t score.”

Leicester remain second, one place ahead of Manchester City and behind Arsenal on goal difference. “This league is very crazy – nobody wants to win it,” Claudio Ranieri said. “We’re the basement and the other teams are a villa with a swimming pool. It’s not easy for us but we want to fight with everybody.”

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