Man City will know if Pellegrini is the right man after testing week

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Travelling to the stadium that has been a hoodoo in recent years, without the team captain, had all the hallmarks of an unavoidable banana-skin for Manchester City, but the 4-1 win they secured at Sunderland proved the defending champions aren’t handing the trophy over without a fight.

But while Manuel Pellegrini does all he can to haul in Chelsea at the summit of the Premier League, a feat the Chilean is 7/2 to achieve, he also wants to squash the feeling that City are a pushover in Europe.

In order to do that, the Citizens must win in Roma in the last game of Group E and hope that CSKA Moscow don’t travel to Bayern Munich and collect three points.

At 13/8 for victory in the Stadio Olimpico, City are certainly not guaranteed to live out their dreams of reaching the Champions League knockout stages, and the congested Premier League fixture list leading up to the game does them no favours.

Having just come through two games in four days with a number of key players missing, City have to host Everton at the Etihad this weekend before travelling to the Italian capital for Wednesday night’s tussle.

Edin Dzeko and David Silva are both due to return from injury for the Toffees game, but Pellegrini could be tempted to hold them back for Roma if he views that as the more important fixture.

The dilemma comes in the six-point gap Chelsea currently hold over the defending champions; it’s one that can’t afford to grow much larger if hopes of overtaking Jose Mourinho’s men are to remain intact.

Everton’s record of nine wins in the last 14 meetings with City shows that these are foes that are not to be underestimated and with Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov and Matija Nastasic all ruled out for the game, it is time for Pellegrini to earn his dosh.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.