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Soccer-Pellegrini admits Bayern blunder but not feeling guilty

Reuters

LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said he made a mistake by not realising his team were one goal away from topping their Champions League group, but does not feel guilty about his mathematical blunder.

City came from two goals down to beat European champions Bayern Munich 3-2 but finished second in Group D behind the German team.

Pellegrini's side could have topped the group, and avoided the big guns in the draw for the knockout stage, had they scored one goal more, but the manager was unaware.

He told reporters in the aftermath that he had not brought on striker Sergio Aguero in the second half because he thought they needed two more goals.

"Before the match we had to win," Pellegrini told reporters on Friday. "We knew we had to score one more goal than them when they played here.

"When they scored, I knew it was not enough because of goal average but when they scored second I didn't think about scoring five. I tried to think more about the game because we were losing 2-0. I recognise my mistake but I don't have a guilty conscience."

City host Premier League pacesetters Arsenal on Saturday with their title credentials in need of a boost after an inconsistent start to the campaign left them in fourth place, six points off the lead.

The match pitches the Premier League's best home team against the country's best travellers with City winning all seven matches at their Etihad Stadium and Arsenal winning six out of eight away.

BUSY PERIOD

Both teams were involved in midweek European action, with City claiming a morale-boosting win and Arsenal qualifying from their group by the skin of their teeth after a 2-0 defeat to Napoli.

Arsenal have had less time to recover for Saturday's match, a problem exacerbated by the early 1245 GMT kickoff time.

"This is our opportunity to take three important points against the best team in the Premier League at the moment," Pellegrini said.

"For Arsenal and for our team, this is a very important game. They play one day after we did in the Champions League. Maybe our match was not exactly the same but I don't think that will be an advantage or those things will decide the game. I think the way both teams will play will be more important."

The term 'six-pointer' is usually reserved for the tail-end of seasons when individual matches can have a decisive impact but defeat would open up a healthy nine-point cushion for Arsenal.

Victory would leave City breathing down Arsenal's necks heading into the busy Christmas period.

"We need to be at least three points near the top. All the teams, especially if we win, will be near us. There are six or seven teams fighting for the title," Pellegrini added.

City should be in good shape having rested strikers Aguero and Alvaro Negredo as well as captain Vincent Kompany for the midweek win.

Striker Stevan Jovetic has been hampered by injuries since joining the club in the close season, but has returned to training.

"Jovetic worked normally with the whole squad today," said Pellegrini. (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Julien Pretot)

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