PREMIER LEAGUE

Pelegrini plays down City's summit meeting

Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City will still have a good chance to win the Premier League even if they lose today's summit meeting with surprise leaders Leicester.

Pelegrini plays down City's summit meeting
Stu Forster Getty Images

Pellegrini's side are three points behind Leicester ahead of Saturday's crucial clash at Eastlands, where a victory for Claudio Ranieri's team would leave them firmly in control of the title race with 13 games remaining.

Leicester's midweek win over Liverpool maintained their remarkable rise and Pellegrini is well aware of the threat posed by the Foxes, but City boss is adamant their showdown will not prove a decisive match.

"We can win this game or lose this game and it will not finish the Premier League. After this you still have to play 13 more games, 39 points," Pellegrini said.

"You cannot think because you win you are the champions. If you lose you still have a lot of things to fight for between now and the end of the season.

"Maybe at the beginning Leicester were a surprise but now it is not a surprise. They are playing with a very high performance, they have a team that works well together and they have an experienced manager.

"I think they will be involved in the title race until the end. "I hope we can win to close the gap and continue fighting with Leicester and other teams to see who will win the title this year."

Leicester have provided one of the most captivating stories in the Premier League era with their fairytale rise, but few outside the King Power Stadium believed Ranieri's men would still be in the thick of the title race at this late stage of the campaign.

Yet the Foxes weathered a potentially ruinous slump over the Christmas period as three wins in their last four games catapulted them back to the top.

While doubters question their ability to last the pace, Leicester's recent results have convinced Ranieri his players are embracing the spotlight and won't wilt under the pressure of battling for their first top-flight title.

"My players are very intelligent in every situation. Maybe everybody believes in something special and they are working for something special. This is important," Ranieri said.

"I think all the people understand we are doing something extraordinary so far.

"What happens in the future, I don't know, but already we gave a very good gift to our fans. What happened this season is not real."

Nothing could underline the unpredictable nature of the Premier League this season better than Leicester's involvement in a top of the table fixture, while Chelsea's clash with Manchester United -- traditionally a key fixture in any title race -- is relegated to relative irrelevance.

Chelsea's stunning fall from grace less than a year after winning the title has left them 16 points adrift of the top four in mid-table obscurity.

United's campaign has been almost as traumatic, with boss Louis van Gaal repeatedly pushed to the brink of resigning over fan and player unrest at his conservative tactics.

Sitting five points adrift of fourth placed Arsenal, van Gaal's side desperately need a win at Stamford Bridge to avoid more opprobrium being heaped on the Dutch coach and his players.

Meanwhile, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has urged his players to work hard at making history rather than waste time talking about it.

Pochettino's third placed club, who last the won the title in 1961, host Watford with genuine hopes of a title challenge.

But Pochettino, whose side have won their last five matches, was in no mood to make predictions when asked about Tottenham's chances.

"In football, in my experience, it's better to show than to speak," he said.

Tottenham's north London rivals Arsenal are also five points behind Leicester and can't afford another slip at Bournemouth following their midweek draw with Southampton.

"There is a long way to go and there is always a twist in the tale," Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech said. "If we believe then we can still do it. There are more than enough games to put ourselves back at the top."