Man City still 'perfect', but Aguero injury a big worry
But even after dramatic winner, Aguero injury will surely worry Pellegrini
CRYSTAL PALACE 0
MAN CITY 1
(Kelechi Iheanacho 90+1)
These promise to be the best and worst of times for Manuel Pellegrini.
His Manchester City side remain unbeaten in the English Premier League after a dramatic injury-time smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace yesterday, and they continue to be unopposed in their quest for title glory.
But, even as crisis continues to consume their title rivals, Pellegrini's tenure faces its own challenges; ones that could conceivably leave him on a similarly rocky ground.
Selhurst Park held little fondness for Pellegrini; it provided the backdrop when he was staring down the barrel last season, having seen his defending champions bow out of contention to reclaim their Premier League crown after they suffered defeat by Crystal Palace in April.
Five months on, in spite of his remarkable renaissance at the Etihad Stadium, this corner of south London was in danger of proving again to be a cruel mistress for the Chilean, before Kelechi Iheanacho's decisive 91st-minute strike tipped the balance spectacularly.
Another prospective existential crisis had played out earlier with the loss of Sergio Aguero to a knee injury, which if serious threatens to cast a shadow over this rampant start to the new season.
Coming just days before City's Champions League campaign commences, Pellegrini will not be completely happy.
OLD LADY'S VISIT
The visit of Juventus on Wednesday morning (Singapore time) for the Champions League is likely to see his side devoid of their prolific Argentinian, who was forced to watch longingly from the sidelines for the remainder of the first half and the whole of the second when Palace gave as good as they got.
Already missing the prodigious Raheem Sterling and the mercurial David Silva through injury, Aguero's absence makes Pellegrini's decision to loan out recognised strikers Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic appear increasingly costly.
Back in his former London parish, Kevin de Bruyne could have been forgiven for wondering whether his return to English football would play out in a similar fashion to his first at Chelsea, when he started on the substitutes' bench.
He was not allowed to wonder for long.
Aguero's premature withdrawal through a knee injury afforded him a long-awaited debut. Time will tell whether Pellegrini's assertion that no one will remember the eight-figure sum paid for the 24-year-old rings true.
The Belgian has accrued £79 million ($172m) in transfer fees.
Expectancy is understandably high for a player that commanded a hefty premium over the summer.
There were flashes of that potential, not least when his threaded pass allowed Jesus Navas to breeze past the advancing Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, but the Spaniard's final touch, with an open goal at his mercy, typified City's profligacy in the absence of their talisman.
A stoppage time strike from the inexperienced Iheanacho, turning home a Samir Nasri cross, tipped the scales of an evenly-matched encounter in City's favour.
Just two games into his senior career, the Nigerian almost doubled his tally on the stroke of full time when McCarthy parried another Nasri effort into his path.
Pushed and harried, Pellegrini's Citizens continue to possess the hallmark of champions.
How they respond to their latest pitfall in terms of a shortage of top notch attackers will determine the strength of those credentials.
YESTERDAY'S OTHER RESULTS
- Everton 3 Chelsea 1
- Arsenal 2 Stoke 0
- Norwich 3 Bournemouth 1
- Watford 1 Swansea 0
- West Brom 0 Southampton 0