Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester United’s midweek defeat to West Ham has placed a different kind of pressure on Manchester City ahead of their final-day trip to Swansea City.
City head to south Wales occupying the Premier League’s fourth and final Champions League qualification spot, two points better off than United in fifth.
Pellegrini’s men twice shelled leads established by Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne to be held to a 2-2 draw by Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium last time out, meaning victory for United in east London would have lifted Louis van Gaal’s side into the top four before their home match with AFC Bournemouth.
But, in a more dramatic collapse than that endured by their neighbours, United saw a 2-1 advantage become a 3-2 defeat as West Ham bid a raucous farewell to Upton Park.
A vastly superior goal difference means City need only avoid defeat to retain their position among Europe’s elite but Pellegrini has urged focus – a quality too often lacking in his teams this season – against opponents who have impressed with convincing victories over Liverpool and West Ham in their past two matches.
“It’s always a difficult game when you play away,” Pellegrini told his final pre-match news conference, before he makes way for Pep Guardiola.
“Swansea has done very well in the last two games. We had an atmosphere when everybody thought we were eliminated from the first four positions.
“Now it is in the other sense. We are not ready [assured of Champions League] and we must play a very good game to qualify.”
Pellegrini claimed the Premier League and League Cup in 2013-14, capping a dazzling first season at the helm.
His subsequent efforts at Eastlands have failed to measure up, despite adding a second League Cup thanks to a penalty shootout win over Liverpool this term, but he feels he leaves City in a stronger state to the side he inherited from Roberto Mancini three years ago.
“It’s a club that is growing every year, not just in results,” he said. “We have another style of play, we are a team that takes more risks and scores a lot of goals.
“I am sure in the future this club will continue growing.”
In an unexpected turn of events, the match will not mark a final 90 minutes in charge for both managers after Swansea announced they would retain veteran boss Francesco Guidolin on an extended two-year contract.
“It is not easy to keep going up in football. It is important to have a season that is complicated to understand and learn new things,” said Guidolin, who was appointed in mid-season to replace club stalwart Garry Monk.
City remain without captain Vincent Kompany (thigh), fellow defender Pablo Zabaleta (calf) and playmaker David Silva (hamstring), while Aleksandar Kolarov (muscular) and Samir Nasri (illness) will be assessed.
Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski will join team-mates Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor and Gylfi Sigurdsson in resting up ahead of Euro 2016 commitments, meaning a likely Premier League debut for Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
Key Opta stats
– Wilfried Bony has scored in both of his Premier League matches against former club Swansea City.
– Yaya Toure has scored four goals in his last four Premier League games against Swansea.
– Manchester City have won six and lost none of their past seven meetings with Swansea.
– Bafetimbi Gomis has scored on both of his previous two appearances against Manchester City.
– Sergio Aguero has scored in six Premier League games in a row, his longest ever run in the competition.
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