MANCHESTER: The smooth manner in which champions Manchester City ran up through the gears on Monday to beat Liverpool – last season’s runners-up – by 3-1 allowed manager Manuel Pellegrini to talk openly about pursuing all four titles on offer.
City appear in a far stronger position to venture further in the Champions League than last season’s final-16 stage and in the FA Cup where they fell in the quarter-finals. City have a stronger squad and the depth was illustrated by the decisive performance of two-goal Stevan Jovetic.
The Montenegro forward enjoys playing against Liverpool. Five years ago he scored twice for Fiorentina in helping knock Liverpool out in the group stage of the Champions League.
Last season, his first in England however, saw him make only two Premier starts. That was a poor return on the £22m which City had paid Fiorentina. His shadow role was due partly to the attacking rivalry of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo but partly to a series of hamstring injuries. Now that is all behind him.
Jovetic said: “Last year was very difficult. But that is past and I don’t even think about it. I just concentrate on the future and the next game and hope I can continue like this. I had so many tests with so many doctors and discovered the problem that my hamstrings were not so strong. Now I am working on them in the gym.”
Pellegrini’s faith in Jovetic was illustrated by the manager’s refusal to consider selling him.
The Chilean said: “A lot of clubs wanted him this year but we have always said ‘No’. He must stay here in our squad.” Negredo’s long-term absence with a foot injury suffered in pre-season has justified further that decision.
Pellegrini said: “The need for a strong squad is why we have brought in Willy Caballero, Sagna, Frank Lampard, Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala. It was also a big boost that so many have signed new contracts – Samir Nasri, Aleks Kolarov, Sergio Agüero, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Edin Dzeko.”
Agüero scored City’s third goal against Liverpool with his first touch as a substitute after only 23 seconds on the pitch. City are formidable opponents in front of their own fans. They have now scored at least once in 70 of their last 71 Premier League home games.
** Arsenal may need to spend on a new centre-forward in the closing hours of the transfer window with Olivier Giroud possibly out for four months after a leg injury at Everton.
** Felix Magath hailed Fuham’s 1:0 League Cup win at Brentford as a “turning point” after the four successive defeats which dumped his relegated team at the foot of the second division.