Five areas Pellegrini needs to improve on
MAN CITY v MAN UNITED
(Sunday, 9.30pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has insisted that his team must improve before they play Manchester United on Sunday, and he's absolutely right.
Pellegrini admitted that United's late equaliser against Chelsea last Sunday had brought a smile to his face, but he will know that it will also have galvanised his local rivals.
With momentum and belief, United will go to the Etihad on Sunday convinced that they can take all three points.
Here are five areas of City's game that require attention if they are to be successful.
1 WHERE'S THE HUNGER?
There is something of the 2012/13 side about this City team.
The hunger and intensity that drove them to the title looks to have dissipated. This could be due to a number of external factors.
Yaya Toure has had personal issues that may have reduced his effectiveness.
Samir Nasri (above), a driving force last season, has been injured.
But it seems more likely that the team have simply lost their edge.
In 2013, that cost Roberto Mancini his job, even after a second-placed finish and an appearance in the FA Cup final.
There are high expectations at City. Pellegrini needs to light a rocket under his players or he will go the same way.
2 MAY THE FORCE BE WITH CITY
The Premier League is packed with resourceful, intelligent teams that know how to keep their shape and lock out even the most star-studded line-up.
Sometimes, it's not enough to have star quality. Sometimes, you need brute force as well.
Someone powerful who can dominate backlines and win the first ball.
That's what Edin Dzeko (above) is supposed to provide but, with the exception of a brace against Hull City, the big Bosnian has fallen short this year.
City have only three senior strikers but, when Dzeko is as poor as he was against West Ham last weekend, they have only two.
3 SHORE UP THE DEFENCE
Some of the most promising defenders in Europe have found England to be a brutal testing ground for their talents and it's been no different for Eliaquim Mangala (above).
The Premier League is fast and hard and errors are magnified under intense scrutiny.
Thus far, Mangala has looked unsettled. He needs to quickly forge an understanding with Vincent Kompany.
That said, the same could have beeen said for Martin Demichelis when he arrived and he ended last season as one of the form defenders in the division.
Which way will Mangala go? Will he be the new Matija Nastasic or the new Stefan Savic? Pellegrini certainly needs the former.
4 CAN THE REAL TOURE PLEASE SHOW UP?
City's greatest successes have been built on the incredible power and quality of Yaya Toure (above).
Fully armed and operational, he is a game-changer.
When he opens up the throttle and runs at teams, they very rarely have a viable strategy of defence.
But we haven't seen enough of that Toure this season and there isn't anyone else in the squad who can compensate for his absence.
He has suffered personal issues off the pitch which may very well have contributed to his slump but, if City are to fulfil their potential, they need the old Toure back, clanking through the midfield, tearing teams asunder.
5 REDISCOVER SELF-BELIEF
Bayern Munich's annihilation of Roma has given City a chance to qualify for the latter stages of the Champions League and they need to take it, if for no other reason than to boost their self-esteem.
That's where this club belong. After six years of unprecedented funding, City should be at the top of Europe, but they're not even contenders.
Sometimes you get the impression that neither the fans nor the players believe that they should be at that level.
They're wrong. City are a sensibly-managed, well-resourced club and they can be anything they want to be.
They just need to believe.