London- Champions Manchester City hope to ramp up the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea in midweek by succeeding where the Londoners couldn’t – winning at Sunderland.
Sunderland’s efforts in holding Chelsea to a 0-0 draw on Saturday, combined with a win for City at Southampton the following day, cut the gap between the two to six points.
And City are determined to take advantage of any further slip-up by Chelsea by winning at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night.
“We are trying to return to the form of champions,’’ City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, said.
“I said before these last three games: we were not playing so bad – maybe we were making important mistakes and maybe we were not so accurate in finishing, but the most important thing is that we never lost the spirit of the team.
“We always try to win. Maybe we had two or three results that were not what we wanted but I am very glad to see the team playing the way they are now.’’
Their 3-0 win at Southampton moved them back up to second position and though captain Vincent Kompany is likely out through injury and Eliaquim Mangala is suspended after his weekend red card, Pellegrini is confident in the depth in his squad.
“Of course, we don’t have both of them (Kompany and Mangala) but we have Martin Demichelis and Dedryck Boyata – he is working very well,’’ he said.
“Bacary Sagna can also play at centre back.’’
Chelsea will host Tottenham without the suspended Diego Costa, the striker who has been one of the main reasons behind their outstanding start to the season.
Didier Drogba and Loic Remy will compete for a starting spot against a Spurs side who beat Everton on Sunday, but Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic said Chelsea have no reason to be fearful.
“We didn’t play badly against Sunderland,’’ said Matic. “They played well even though I felt comfortable on the pitch and for 90 minutes we controlled the game.
“We are not happy with one point but it is better than to go home with zero. If you don’t score, you cannot win but against Tottenham, we cannot let this happen again, we have to score.’’
Fourth-placed Manchester United are likely to be without Angel Di Maria for their match at home to Stoke, but Wayne Rooney should be fit.
United have moved into a Champions League spot in spite of a lengthy injury list and manager Louis van Gaal knows they cannot take any game for granted.
“In the Premier League, nothing is easy and when you see Liverpool struggling against Stoke City (on Saturday) for 85 minutes, it shows,’’ he said.
Van Gaal will rely on Rooney and Robin van Persie for goals, with the Dutchman having broken a scoring drought at the weekend.
“A striker needs to score goals and he scored a beautiful goal,’’ Van Gaal said of van Persie. “I was very happy for him.’’
Southampton, having dropped to third after their defeat by City, face another tough task at sixth-placed Arsenal, while Liverpool will try to make it back-to-back wins by taking all three points at bottom side Leicester.
Second-bottom Burnley entertain Newcastle, while third-bottom Queens Park Rangers travel to Swansea.
Crystal Palace take on Aston Villa, fifth-placed West Ham are away to West Brom and Everton face Hull in the other midweek matches. (dpa/NAN)