SOUTHAMPTON — Someone give Jose Mourinho and Chelsea a call, the Premier League title race is back on.
Manchester City’s players looked nasty, hungry and defiant as they shutout Southampton and hammered in three goals in the second half to send out a message to Chelsea and the rest of the league: We aren’t giving up our title without a fight.
[ RELATED: Three things we learned ]
With the win City move into second spot and are just six points behind leaders Chelsea and they have been threatening a performance like this for quite some time after labored wins over Swansea, Manchester United and a draw vs. QPR in their last three PL matches.
After an even first half where Sergio Aguero should have had a penalty kick and Stevan Jovetic had an effort cleared off the line, City stepped things off in the second period and blew Southampton away. Even when they were reduced to 10-men, the Citizens showed their class by stepping in at the right moments, launching counter attacks and returning to their ruthless best.
[ RELATED: Gerrard to step aside? ]
The Citizens have lost twice this season in the PL and if you look back to this time last season, they also endured a slow start and were trailing Arsenal by a similar margin before motoring on in the second half of the season to clinch the title. This season they will have a much tougher task to overcome a rampant Chelsea, but the signs are good for Pellegrini’s boy to chase down the leaders.
“We have to play 25 games more, it is a lot of points,” Pellegrini said. “In football, nobody knows what happens. In one week you can change with three bad results and that will change your position. Chelsea is playing very well, let’s see what happens in the future. We must try to just think about what we do against Sunderland [in our next game].”
Aguero, although he didn’t scored, epitomized his teams performance and proved he can create goals after he set up Yaya Toure’s opener and then beautifully teed up Gael Clichy with the outside of his boot for the third. The Premier League’s top scorer showed sublime hunger and ambition all game long as the Citizens handed Southampton a severe reality check. Pellegrini was delighted with the performance away at St Mary’s, where the Saints had let in just one goal all season before Sunday’s demolition at the hands of City.
“I am very pleased. We beat a very good team. They were second in the table and deserved that position,” Pellegrini said. “We played a very good game it was important to have a clean sheet again, they had just one chance in the 90 minutes and that is important for the trust in our team, and to score three goals against the best defense is also very important.”
But can City really challenge Chelsea for the title after their sluggish opening to the 2013-14 campaign? Pellegrini admitted his team may not be defending or attacking to the same level they did when they won the title last season, but the desire and hunger to clinch a second-straight crown is still there.
“We can complain about a lot of things with this team this year. That we are conceding too many, and not scoring the amount of goals we did last season,” Pellegrini said. “But the only thing we cannot complain about with this squad is the spirit, personality, character and ambition to keep winning.”