English Premier League: Manchester City win gives manager Pellegrini four-trophy target

Club maintains 100% home record after beating Crystal Palace 1-0.

Afp December 29, 2013
Dzeko turned in Jesus Navas’s cut-back in the 66th minute to secure the three points that sent City top. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his side can challenge for four trophies this season after moving top of the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Edin Dzeko struck in the second half of a nervy encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as City maintained their 100% home record after finally breaking down a resolute and enterprising Palace side.

With City also in contention in the Champions League, the League Cup and the FA Cup, Pellegrini says that they are exactly where he had hoped they would be at the turn of the year.

“We know we are in the position we wanted to be at the beginning of the first half (of the season),” he said.

“Maybe eight games ago; nobody believed we could discount six points to Arsenal. We did it. We won the last seven games and we drew one. We must continue this way but we are just in the first half of the Premier League.

“The second half will be exactly the same as the first one, with five or six teams fighting for the title to the end.”

Dzeko turned in Jesus Navas’s cut-back in the 66th minute to secure the three points that sent City top, but Joe Hart’s performance in goal was also a crucial factor.

Hart pulled off three fine saves in the second half to deny Jason Puncheon, Mile Jedinak and Joel Ward.

“I think he always knew what we think about him,” said Pellegrini.

“He needed a rest. He worked always very hard but he was always confident he would return to his position. He is playing at his normal performance (level) as the good goalkeeper he is.”

Moyes hails super-sub Welbeck

David Moyes backed Danny Welbeck to play a key role in Manchester United’s bid to retain the Premier League title after the England striker sealed his side’s 1-0 win at Norwich.

Moyes had been unable to pick either Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney because of injury and initially rested Welbeck on the bench at Carrow Road on Saturday.

But the 23-year-old came on to net the only goal of the game in the 57th minute as United sealed their sixth successive victory in all competitions.

The reigning champions are up to sixth, two points short of a top-four place heading into the new year.

Welbeck outshone Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, who had started, and Moyes was quick to praise his impact.

“If you look at Danny now, he is a big part of Manchester United,” said Moyes. “He has been playing very well and came on to make the difference.”

Welbeck’s goal, the result of a double deflection of an attempted clearance by Norwich defender Ryan Bennett, was his 10th of the season and his seventh for United.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2013.

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