Milner – We can retain the title

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Published: Thursday 5th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Manchester City midfielder James Milner claims the champions can win their remaining 10 games and retain their Barclays Premier League crown.

City and their manager Manuel Pellegrini suffered a barrage of criticism last week after defeats to Barcelona and Liverpool damaged their European and domestic title hopes.

They at least got back to winning ways on the home front in midweek as they edged to a disjointed 2-0 victory over bottom side Leicester at the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea remain five points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand but, after the late charges that won titles in 2012 and 2014, Milner is not giving up hope.

The England international, who scored City’s second goal against the Foxes in the 89th minute, said: “I think we have played better but it is pleasing to get a result.

“It was important to bounce back after the disappointment of the weekend.

“Now it is about recovering from this period and getting back to 100 per cent, then working on things that we have been struggling on and getting back to the form we know we can hit and have shown in games, for periods of maybe 10, 15 or 20 minutes at a time.

“We have got a bit sloppy. It is important we step that up and do it for the 95 minutes of a game and not just in periods. That is what you need to do to be successful.

“We know what is in front of us now. The remaining games, we have to win, and we are more than capable of doing that. We have done it before.

“It is important we build on this win and take that forward.”

City were not fluent but still created numerous chances and seized the initiative when David Silva struck from close range in first-half stoppage time.

Mark Schwarzer produced several fine saves to prevent further damage but Milner came off the bench to make the result certain in the closing moments.

The result was an important statement by Pellegrini, who had dropped out-of-form captain Vincent Kompany and playmaker Samir Nasri among five changes.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart said: “We’ve had criticism off people who don’t particularly matter to us. What matters is what our manager thinks, and what we think as players. We showed where our heads are at with this result.

“We’ll keep trying to win every game we’ve got, same as we have done for the past couple of years, when we’ve been chasing titles and cups.”

The outcome could have been different for City had Leicester won any of three penalty appeals. One early one, for a challenge on Jeff Schlupp by Wilfried Bony, was particularly strong while a later foul on Riyad Mahrez by Fernando awarded just outside the box appeared to have been inside it.

Mahrez also shot against the post as the relegation strugglers pushed the hosts hard.

With the Foxes seven points from safety, albiet with a game in hand, veteran defender Matthew Upson hopes that luck turns soon.

The 35-year-old said: “It is tough to take. We can take a lot of positives from the performance – the attitude and commitment the players show – but sooner or later those things are going to have to go your way.

“The manager says we need to stay together, regardless of what the decisions are and how things pan out. I don’t think we have failed him on that so far this season and that is a testament to him and the group.

“There is time, there are points available. Another round of Premier League games has gone by but we are not in too different a position to where we were before.

“So, there is plenty of hope, effort, good attitude and excitement about the next few games.”

Upson was making just his fourth appearance of the season after suffering an ankle injury soon after joining the club on a free transfer from Brighton last summer.

He said: “I am really pleased. It was only my third or fourth 90-minutes after eight months out and at my age to come back and feel how I feel, I am really pleased and pleasantly surprised.”

Published: Thursday 5th March 2015 by The News Editor

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