Manuel Pellegrini hailed his side’s victory over Liverpool as worth six points as the champions made an early-season statement of intent to defend their crown against one of their title rivals.
Two goals from Stevan Jovetic plus one from the substitute Sergio Agüero were answered only by a Pablo Zabaleta own-goal as Manchester City coasted to victory by 3-1 against the visitors.
With City having won their opening two Premier League games, after Newcastle United were defeated in the season opener, a pleased Pellegrini said: “For me these are games of six points – especially when you play at home. Liverpool is an important team and one that will be fighting for the title. We have had a hard start to the season so it is important for us to win the second game.”
Pellegrini was particularly happy with Jovetic, who endured an injury-plagued first campaign at City, as the Montenegrin scored on 41 and 55 minutes after the manager stated last week that the real player would be seen this term. “Yes and not only for his goals,” said the Chilean. “He was working the whole game, without the ball too. He was very unlucky last season but we never had any doubt about this quality. To start the season in this way after an unlucky new season is good.
“I don’t think it is like a new signing. We need four strikers. At this moment Stevan is doing very well but you cannot forget [Álvaro] Negredo is injured. We need four. [Edin] Dzeko and Jovetic and Agüero are working well. It is important that they continue playing the way they did.”
Agüero entered as a 68th-minute replacement for the injured Dzeko and scored almost instantly, while Pellegrini said of the Bosnian centre-forward’s problem: “It was a kick and he had some trouble with his leg. We will see tomorrow but I think it will be OK.”
While Zabaleta’s own-goal came in the 83rd minute, Agüero’s finish followed the one he collected at Newcastle, again when coming on as a substitute. The Argentinian is being coaxed into fitness after carrying injuries at the World Cup.
Although Zabaleta was able to start for City despite also being involved in Argentina’s campaign at Brazil 2014, Pellegrini has no concerns regarding Agüero. “It is different,” he said. “Maybe they have the same delays in preparing but it is not the same with Kun. He had a difficult second part to the year and an injury at the World Cup. It is important he has a good preparation. Kun Agüero is a very special player for us and it is important for us. It was good that the first ball he touched was a goal. That was not luck. He is working very hard during the week and this is an important reward.”
Eliaquim Mangala, the £32m summer signing, is also regaining fitness. “We will see during the next week [if he can face Stoke City on Saturday]. It is not just him,” said the manager. “A lot of other players arrived late and we will see how we can do it so they can be 100% fit. We will maybe see after the international break. We have to play seven games in 20 days after the international break. It is important we take advantage of every day. That is why it has been so difficult pre-season and at the start of the season.”
Jovetic said: “There are so many beautiful moments now after so many problems last year. But I don’t want to think about that as it’s the past. I just want to enjoy with this team with these players and to win as many titles as we can. It’s difficult [to remain in the team], I know that. But my job is just to go out on to the pitch and do my best.”