Keep feet on the ground, Pellegrini warns his table-topping Manchester City
Spurs demolished 5-1 in another vibrant attacking display; Sherwood hails rivals as champions elect
Manuel Pellegrini warned his Manchester City’s stars not to be distracted by dreams of Premier League glory after they swept to the top of the table with a 5-1 demolition of 10-man Tottenham.
Pellegrini’s side moved one point clear of second-placed Arsenal thanks to the latest in a growing list of vibrant attacking displays.
City, who have now scored five or more goals in a match eight times this season, tore Tottenham to shreds in ruthless fashion despite losing Argentina striker Sergio Aguero to a suspected hamstring injury just before half-time.
Aguero had already opened the scoring and Yaya Toure’s controversial penalty, awarded after a challenge which led to Tottenham’s Danny Rose being dismissed, was followed by further strikes from Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany.
City’s imperious display at White Hart Lane on Wednesday extended their unbeaten run to 20 matches in all competitions and took their goal tally for the season to 115.
Remarkably 21 of those goals have come in City’s last five matches, a majestic run of form which has prompted many pundits, as well as Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood, to hail Pellegrini’s team as champions elect.
But Pellegrini knows there is still a long way to go before the destination of the title is decided and the Chilean is determined to keep his players’ feet on the ground.
“We are not thinking about the title,” Pellegrini said. “It’s always very important to be top but we have to play 15 more games.
“It depends what we do in every match, we have to fight for 45 more points.
“We don’t have such a big advantage that we can think the Premier League is finished. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool also have chances of fighting for the title.”
Pellegrini’s caution is understandable, but the evidence is mounting that City are the cream of the crop in the Premier League this season.
They enjoyed 66 per cent of possession against Spurs and had 24 shots, and all this against a team who had won five of their last six league matches and are regarded as genuine contenders for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Tottenham claimed that referee Andre Marriner was wrong to give a penalty for Rose’s second-half challenge on Dzeko when the score was only 1-0.
But Pellegrini insisted his team would have won, whether or not Rose stayed on the pitch.
“I don’t think that was the big decision because before the red card we missed at least five clear chances,” he said.
“It might be our best away performance of the season. We played against a good team in a very good moment for them.
“It is not easy to score here but we got five and also defended well. The performance was complete.”
Despite bemoaning the dismissal of Rose, Sherwood expects them to win the Premier League for the second time in three years.
“I think Danny’s making a last-ditch tackle so he’s having to lunge in there a bit. He clearly wins the ball,” Sherwood said.
“It made a difference to the scoreline but they were excellent, weren’t they?
“You’ve got to hold your hands up. Even before the sending-off, they come at you from all angles and they are the best team in the league by a country mile.
“We’ve played the champions today, without question in my opinion.
“Unfortunately for everyone they play, they don’t just score one and shut up shop, they keep coming. If anyone is going to win the league you want a team like this to do it because they entertain.
“They’ve got to win it now. I just think these guys are on a different level to anything in the league.”