Pellegrini blames Chelsea and Norwich setbacks on injuries up front

The Manchester City manager claims that Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko were not fully fit after his previously free-scoring side were kept from scoring for the second game in a row

By Oliver Platt at Carrow Road

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has blamed his side’s injury problems for their failure to score in two successive games after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Norwich City.

City had the chance to go top of the Premier League with a victory at Carrow Road, despite Monday’s defeat by Chelsea, as a result of Arsenal’s thrashing at the hands of Liverpool in Saturday’s early kick-off.

But Pellegrini’s team struggled to break down a resolute Canaries side and the Chilean revealed that strikers Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko were struggling for fitness, with Sergio Aguero already ruled out.

“Everyone is talking about our team, that we score so many goals but that we concede goals in defence,” he told reporters, “but, I repeat, the most difficult thing is to score goals.

“The last two games, I am absolutely sure, are directly [related] with the fitness of our three strikers. Without a goal you cannot win a game.

“[Yaya Toure’s] play was quite defensive and that’s why I think we lost a bit in attack,” he continued, “but that’s because Fernandinho and Javi Garcia are not fit. It’s exactly the same with the strikers; we lost Aguero, Negredo and Dzeko and I think that’s the reason why we didn’t score in the last two games.

“[Dzeko and Negredo] are not 100 per cent. Dzeko had an ankle in very bad condition and, in the last three weeks, Negredo has had a problem with his shoulder but they had to play in that condition.”

Pellegrini praised Norwich’s defensive reslience and was unperturbed by his side’s failure to capitalise on Arsenal’s slip-up.

“I think Norwich played a very good game,” he added. “They defended very well. Maybe it was a good opportunity [to go top] but we are still only two points behind the leaders.

“I was concerned about this match, for exactly the same reason as the game on Monday against Chelsea, because we have a lot of players who are not 100% fit.”

Norwich manager Chris Hughton pointed out that his side had their own injury problems with which to contend and a far smaller squad than Pellegrini enjoys at City.

“It says a lot about what we’ve got in the squad,” he remarked. “It’s a smaller squad – certainly a smaller squad than Man City’s – but it’s a tighter squad.

“We have a support here that know the game and know how good Man City are. For them to go through a game without scoring a goal is always a big ask.

“We knew that we would have to have a good shape about us but we also had to be a threat. Apart from the fact that we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net I thought we got most things right.”

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