Premier League - Man City boss targets birthday wins

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini wants to celebrate his 60th birthday in style - with victories in Stoke and the Czech city of Plzen.

PA Sport Report
Premier League - Man City boss targets birthday wins

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Manuel Pellegrini (PA Photos)

City's new Chilean boss reaches the personal landmark on Monday, the day before his side open their Champions League campaign against Viktoria Plzen.

Prior to that they travel to the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League and back-to-back wins would put Pellegrini in the best mood for the upcoming derby clash with champions Manchester United.

Pellegrini said: "The best way to celebrate is to win against Stoke and then next Tuesday against Plzen in the Champions League, then we have the whole week to celebrate before we play against Manchester United."

The matches are the first of seven over the next three weeks, a critical early-season spell that also includes a clash with European champions Bayern Munich and a testing visit from Everton.

Pellegrini, who is expected to transform the club's Champions League fortunes after failures in the past two seasons, recognises the pressure is on - but claims it is no greater than usual.

He said: "I think for me, the team and the club the pressure must always be the highest pressure - to have good performances in every tournament we play; Premier League, Champions League, Capital One (Cup).

"For me it is always the same. The pressure is positive."

City do not have a spectacular record at the Britannia Stadium.

They did win there during their run to the FA Cup final last season but their last four Premier League visits have ended in 1-1 draws.

Yet that may now count for little with both sides developing new styles under new managers.

Pellegrini wants to introduce a more fluid attacking game while former City boss Mark Hughes wants to change the perception of the Potters as a physical, direct side.

Pellegrini said: "I know all about the Britannia Stadium but all those things don't play the game. It is 11 against 11.

"I know what I need to know about Stoke City. I have studied all the three games they have played this year and I have all the information.

"They are a very strong team playing at home, very good at heading and with very good players like Peter Crouch inside the box.

"We must play a very good game if we want to win away."

Striker Alvaro Negredo will push for his first start after scoring off the bench in the last two games. He was also on target for Spain in Finland last week.

Fellow forward and summer signing Stevan Jovetic is also in contention to make his debut.

With other important fixtures to consider, Pellegrini expects to use his full squad in the coming weeks but is unwilling to give clues as to which games he might be prioritising.

He said: "It is important after we finish each game to talk to each players and know how they feel, and for the players that played two games for their national team. We will see every match."

One player who has played twice for his national side over the past week is under-pressure goalkeeper Joe Hart.

He kept clean sheets in England's games against Moldova and Ukraine and, coming after another shut-out against Hull, that may do the 26-year-old some good.

Pellegrini said: "It is very important for him to have a clean sheet in the last three games he played, two in the national squad and the game here against Hull.

"It is always important for a goalkeeper - but I never had doubts about Joe Hart."

Spanish playmaker David Silva is set to miss the games against Stoke and Plzen after suffering a thigh injury on international duty.

He could also be doubtful for the Manchester derby on Sunday week but will be assessed.

Pellegrini said: "We will see next week what happened with him. We will try for the derby."

Captain Vincent Kompany is nearing a return from the groin injury suffered on the opening day of the season but will sit out the trip to Stoke.

Pellegrini said: "Kompany is okay but I think it is a big risk for him to play three matches in one week. He needs two or three more days to be 100 per cent."

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