Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is eager for his side to return to winning ways when they travel to face struggling Sunderland in the League Cup third round on Tuesday.
City surged to the top of the Premier League in the early stages of the new campaign, putting themselves top of the pile by winning their first five games without conceding a goal.
However, after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday they fell to another loss by the same scoreline at home to West Ham at the weekend.
Following the turnaround in fortunes the Chilean boss is hoping for a positive response from his charges at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland have won six of their previous seven League Cup ties.
“In the last two games we didn’t play with the concentration or intensity we had shown in the first five games,” Pellegrini told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“We never believed we had won the title after just five games – we just always focus on the next game.
“It was a difficult week with the Champions League and then losing today [Saturday]. There’s a long time to go and we must show a good reaction on Tuesday.”
Man City had to make do without David Silva at the weekend after the Spaniard picked up a calf injury so he could be rested, while Vincent Kompany (calf) is unlikely to be risked.
However, Pablo Zabaleta could be in line to return after a month out with a knee problem as City look to progress past Sunderland, whom they beat 3-1 in the 2014 final of this competition.
Regardless of the team that Pellegrini puts out, though, Sunderland will be hoping Tuesday can provide the start of a cup run to ease the pain of sitting bottom of the Premier League table after six games.
Jack Rodwell scored twice as they eliminated Exeter City in the previous round with a 6-3 win, and he has called on his team-mates to keep battling for another victory when they take on his former side.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up now. We’ve got two big games coming up this week,” he told Sunderland’s official website following their 2-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
“It’s one step forward and two steps back at the moment, but we’ve got to keep plugging away.
“There’s no time to dwell [on the defeat] but that’s a good thing really so we can bounce back. Two tough games [are coming] and we’re home against Man City so hopefully we can do something good there.”
Coach Dick Advocaat has been handed a selection headache with Younes Kaboul suspended following his red card against Bournemouth and John O’Shea suffering from illness, but Wes Brown could return to the starting line-up.
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