Manuel Pellegrini - Sergio Aguero form key to Manchester City success
MANCHESTER -- Manuel Pellegrini has said Sergio Aguero can make the difference for Manchester City as they attempt to finish the season as champions.
Argentine striker Aguero scored twice as City thrashed rock-bottom Aston Villa 4-0 at the Etihad on Saturday, but missed out on a hat trick when he blasted a late penalty against the post.
Aguero has 10 goals in his last 10 games, and Pellegrini says he will be vital if City are to overhaul their rivals in the title race.
The manager told a news conference: "I always say it is a team game not an individual game, but of course there are players that are very important.
"Sergio makes a difference -- that's why maybe three weeks ago, when we lost against Leicester and Tottenham, I said it was the merit of the squad to be fighting for the title with so many important players like [Vincent] Kompany, [David] Silva and Kun [Aguero] injured.
"Of course when you have your best players it is better for the team. But when you don't have, you need a squad.
"But if you ask me, I always want to play with Sergio the way he played today."
Pellegrini praised the patience of his side after they had been frustrated in the first half by Villa's five-man defence.
But they made the breakthrough shortly after the break through Yaya Toure, and Pellegrini said they would go on the attack to put the pressure on their rivals after closing the gap on Tottenham and Arsenal.
He added: "It was very important to score four goals because we always try to be a scoring team. With these four goals we return to be the most scoring team of the Premier League.
"We always try to play in an offensive way. To do it -- especially against Aston Villa with nine players behind the ball -- I think gave us a lot of trust.
"It was very important to be patient today. We didn't play badly in the first half. We created chances but we couldn't score. Fortunately in the second half, we scored those four goals."
Manager Remi Garde felt his team crumbled after a positive first-half display.
He said: "We had a plan going into the game, which was not conceding a goal as long as we could because you have to be realistic -- we were playing away at a team that can still win the Champions League, we are bottom of the league.
"Being too optimistic in our game would have been like a suicide. Everybody was pleased with the way we played the first 45 minutes and the plan for the second half was to do the same and maybe exploit one or two good situations.
"Then after that unfortunately we conceded the first goal very early which was a big blow for the team and the second one straight after the first one was another big blow. You can imagine how it was mentally for the players."
The consolation for Villa was that none of their relegation rivals -- Newcastle, Norwich or Sunderland -- managed to win.
"If there is good news today, it is this one," Garde said.
Garde insisted he had not lost faith in his own ability.
He said: "I'm very confident in my management. I have no problem with that. I have problems, but not with my own management."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.