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Pellegrini upbeat ahead of City’s visit to Stamford Bridge

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists a defeat in Saturday’s crunch clash against leaders Chelsea wouldn’t be a fatal blow to the champions’ chances of retaining the Premier League title.

Pellegrini’s side already trail Chelsea by five points heading into the showdown at Stamford Bridge and a loss would leave them languishing eight points behind with 15 games to play.

But Pellegrini remembers how City, then managed by his predecessor Roberto Mancini, won the title in 2012 despite falling eight points behind Manchester United at a much later stage of the campaign.

He is convinced an equally dramatic fightback is possible even if the result goes against them in west London.

“I think it is a very important game but it is not the game that will decide the title because after that we have to play for 45 points more,” Pellegrini said.

THREE-MATCH BAN

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

City’s hopes of securing a first win at the Bridge since 2010 were boosted on Friday when Chelsea striker Diego Costa was handed a three-match ban for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can during the League Cup semi-final second leg in midweek.

Not having to face Spain international Costa, who has 17 goals in 19 league appearances this season, is a huge lift for City, who have struggled badly since their own talismanic star, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, departed for African Cup of Nations duty.

Toure’s exit has coincided with a run of three games without a win for City, including damaging back-to-back home defeats against Arsenal in the league and then second tier Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, but Pellegrini says his team must take responsibility for filling the void.

“I say always the same thing, in this case for Diego Costa or Yaya, big teams with important squads cannot depend on just one player. I think it is a very important miss for both teams but they have other players to replace him,” Pellegrini said.

EPL Fixtures – Saturday:

Hull v Newcastle (3:45pm)

Crystal Palace v Everton (6pm)

Liverpool v West Ham (6pm)

Man United v Leicester (6pm)

Stoke v QPR (6pm)

Sunderland v Burnley (6pm)

West Brom v Tottenham (6pm)

Chelsea v Man City (8:30pm)

Sunday:

Arsenal v Aston Villa (4:30pm)

Southampton v Swansea (7pm)