Pellegrini: Man City not title favourites
Manuel Pellegrini does not believe Manchester City are now in pole position to win the Premier League title.
• Delaney: Dzeko the difference
Win their remaining three matches and City could well be crowned champions on goal difference, just as in 2012, following their 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
They trail leaders Liverpool by three points and second-placed Chelsea by one after Jose Mourinho's Blues won 2-0 at Anfield, with City having played a game less and boasting a better goal difference than both of their title rivals.
City manager Pellegrini conceded his side have at least regained control of their destiny, but rejected suggestions their goal difference advantage over Chelsea and Liverpool has any bearing at this stage.
“No advantage now, no, but it depends what we can do in the future, that's very important,'' said Pellegrini after fit-again Yaya Toure powered City to a controlled Selhurst Park victory.
Pellegrini hailed his players for not allowing Chelsea's victory at Anfield to prove a distraction against Palace.
“We have always trusted that we can do it,'' he said. “The players knew the score, but it was a very professional performance. It could have been difficult for us to manage the game but we did it very well. For the moment we'll continue in third position, so we have to play and win our three games.
“But the good thing is that the destiny is in our own hands at the moment. This league will be decided by a narrow margin, maybe one point, maybe even goal difference. We have to remain focused in ourselves, and in every single match.
“We are not thinking about goal difference, we are just thinking about how to beat Everton next week. The most important thing is just to concentrate our minds on the next game. If we win our three games, maybe and Liverpool win their two, then maybe the goal difference will be important.
“But before that, we've got to concentrate on the games ahead of us. We must win the three games, I've said all year that all the big teams must feel pressure to win the title. Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United: all the big teams feel the pressure to win the title. Now we'll continue with the same pressure, but it's positive pressure.''
Toure laid on Edin Dzeko's fourth-minute opener before stroking home the second before half-time at Selhurst Park.
Pellegrini withdrew the 30-year-old just past the hour-mark in a bid to stagger his return from thigh trouble.
The City boss said the influential midfielder had only trained fully for two days before producing his match-winning display.
Pellegrini is now hopeful Toure will hit top condition in time for the vital trip to Everton on Saturday.
“We hope, but we don't know,'' said Pellegrini of Toure's return to peak fitness. “You saw him, he was very important for both goals. Yaya only worked with the team the last two days, that's why he didn't play more than 60 minutes.
“But he's a very important player for us. He's a top player, and in the 10 days he was injured he doesn't lose too much on his football condition. So he just played 60 minutes because he was very tired, but he's a very important player for us.
“The most important thing is that we don't depend on just one player. We have a squad and in every game I try to choose the best players that will fit for that moment. Having Yaya fit will be very important.''
David Silva missed City's assured victory with ankle trouble, with Pellegrini admitting the Spain international remains a doubt for the Goodison Park trip.
“We have to wait and see what happens in the week,'' said the City boss. “Maybe yes, maybe not, we'll see how he improves from his injury. Silva is also a very important player, but if he cannot play another player must shoulder the responsibility.''
Palace boss Tony Pulis conceded seeing Toure's name on the team sheet was a “disappointment.”
“For us to win this game every player had to be at their best, and you're hoping to catch Manchester City not at their best,'' said Pulis. “You have to realise playing against some teams is not a level playing field.
“Toure being fit was a real disappointment for me because he's a wonderful player. To do that after being out for three weeks was wonderful.
“The Liverpool result actually gave Man City a massive lift, and then we conceded a poor goal from our point of view early on. That settled them down, just when you want them to be under pressure a little bit. It all fell into place for them.''