Manchester City will be without striker Sergio Aguero for the visit of Aston Villa on Wednesday as Manuel Pellegrini’s side look to look take a giant stride towards securing their second Premier League title in three seasons.
Liverpool have 81 points with one match to play while City have 80 with two matches left — and a nine-goal better goal difference – meaning victory against Villa and West Ham United on the final day of the season will guarantee City the championship While four points from the two games would almost certainly still be good enough.
City will be without their Argentine hit-man for the first of those matches on Wednesday, with the 25-year-old having been forced off midway through the first half of Saturday’s 3-2 win over Everton.
“Sergio Aguero couldn’t recover 100 percent from his groin problem so he is not in this squad list,” manager Pellegrini told a news conference on Tuesday.
“Maybe he has a chance to be fit for Sunday. We will see in the week. I was not 100 percent sure if he was fit for tomorrow — that’s why he is not in the squad.”
Aguero has scored 17 goals in 22 league appearances this season, but has missed many games with calf and hamstring injuries.
Midfielder Yaya Toure would be available, with Pellegrini saying his withdrawal against Everton with 25 minutes remaining was simply a precaution as the Ivorian worked his way back to fitness after hurting a muscle last month.
Pellegrini did not watch Liverpool’s draw with Palace, but said it should act as a warning against any complacency within his squad. “We have to win the game against Aston Villa, then at the end of the week, we will see which team has more points,” he said.
“We will prepare exactly the same as we have done in all the games during the year. The next game is always the most important.
“It is a difficult game because all the teams are under pressure. A lot of people said Everton were not going to win because they didn’t want Liverpool to win the title but we had a very tough game against them. Crystal Palace did not have anything to fight for but they were very strong. I am sure Aston Villa will be a difficult team for us but I hope that if we play at home as we have done so far, we can win.”
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PSG, City stare at big fines
LONDON: Paris St Germain and Manchester City face fines of 60 million euros ($83.3 million) and limits on their Champions League squads for next season for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, a source close to the process told on Tuesday.
UEFA said last week that nine clubs faced punishment under new rules designed to force teams to limit their financial losses. Confirmation of the sanctions could come by the end of this week.
French sports daily L’Equipe reported on Tuesday that Qatari-owned PSG would be fined and have their Champions League squad capped at 21 players instead of 25 next season under a proposed settlement. The club’s wage bill would also be capped.
A similar settlement is believed to have been offered to City but the English club are disputing the terms.
“PSG are close to agreement but it’s fair to say that City are haggling a lot harder,” the source said. A club that fails to agree a settlement with UEFA will have their case referred to an adjudicatory panel which could decide to impose tougher sanctions.
Win it to stay in it: Ancelotti
MADRID: Real Madrid must win Wednesday’s La Liga game at relegation-battling Real Valladolid or their hope of snatching the title from Atletico Madrid or Barcelona will be over, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday. Real missed a chance to wrest the initiative from leaders Atletico and second-placed Barca when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia.
Atletico are top on 88 points after Sunday’s shock 2-0 reverse at Levante with two games left. Barca, who host Atletico on the final day of the season and were held to a 2-2 at home to Getafe, are on 85.
Real are two points behind Barca in third before their game in hand at second-from-bottom Valladolid. “We have to win our three remaining games in La Liga,” Ancelotti said.
“The Valladolid game is like a final for us because not winning it would mean losing the league,” added the Italian.
“We are very focused and tomorrow we will give everything to win. It is a crucial match for both teams.”
This season’s title race is one of the closest in years with Atletico emerging as a third force to rival Real and Barca. Since the introduction of three points for a victory in the 1995-96 season, in only two campaigns have three teams retained a chance of winning going into the final match.
There is a genuine chance that if they beat Atletico on the final day Barca would hand to title to their bitter rivals Real, while Atletico can seal it with a win against Malaga this weekend and a draw at the Nou Camp. Should Barcelona beat Atletico and both finish on the same points they would finish above them on head-to-head – but that could open the door for Real.
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