Pellegrini impressed by City ahead of crucial week
Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City are hitting form at precisely the right moment as his side prepare for a crucial week in the Premier League title race.
City warmed up for a potentially decisive seven days, in which they must travel to Manchester United and Arsenal, with an emphatic 5-0 victory over 10-man Fulham at Eastlands on Saturday.
The five-star display was achieved without Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko, who fell sick on the day of the game, and City's injured leading scorer Sergio Aguero
But a hat-trick from Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, two of them penalties, was followed by goals from Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis as City moved to within six points of leaders Chelsea with three games in hand.
Bookmakers rank City and Chelsea as joint favourites for the title, but City boss Pellegrini has refused to rule out the threat from in-form Liverpool and even faltering Arsenal, who were routed 6-0 by Jose Mourinho's leaders on Saturday.
"I don't think it's just between Chelsea and Manchester City," he said.
"We must continue to fear what Liverpool are doing every week, they are playing well, scoring goals.
"Arsenal had a bad game against Chelsea but they are still only seven points behind Chelsea but with one game less.
"The four teams have the same chance to win the title. They must play seven games more, Arsenal must play eight, we must play 10.
"There are a lot of points left to decide it."
The five-goal rout recalled earlier parts of the season when City were setting goalscoring records, especially at Eastlands, and with Tuesday's Manchester derby at United followed by a trip to Arsenal on Saturday, Pellegrini conceded a return to peak form was sorely needed.
"It is important because maybe the last month we have not been scoring so many goals," said Pellegrini.
"But we're always creating chances so in that sense I was very quiet and not worried about that. I hope we continue.
"Winning is always good preparation for the next match and winning the way we did today is always important.
"But a derby is a special match so we must try and forget about what we did today and think about what we must do against Manchester United."
Toure's hat-trick took the City captain to the 20-goal mark - a level already achieved by Alvaro Negredo and Aguero, with Dzeko also poised to join them with a current tally of 18.
"It's important for Yaya," said Pellegrini. "Maybe at the beginning of the season he received some criticism, that he wasn't defending well, and for me it would have been easy to tell Yaya to stay back defending.
"But it is important to let him play the way he likes to play and scoring 20 goals from midfield is not easy.
"This team doesn't depend on one striker. In the last week we had some problems with Aguero and Stevan Jovetic.
"Now Jovetic is back and I hope Aguero will be with the team next week. So if they don't score, there are other players who can do."
Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta conceded the opening two penalties, earning a red card in the process and leaving his bottom of the table team with only 10 men early in the second half.
But Cottagers manager Felix Magath was more concerned with his struggling side's display over the final half hour when they conceded at will.
"Nobody expected we would win here at Man City," said Magath. "So nobody will care about it but I'm not happy with our performance after the second goal.
"It was a bad moment for us, we lost a second goal and lost a player but that's no reason to stop playing.
"We have to play for 90 minutes whether it's 10 or 11 players, it doesn't matter. They gave up mentally, sure."