Chelsea match will be decisive-Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini admits Manchester City's match away to Chelsea on 31 January will be decisive in whether the Barclays Premier League champions can successfully defend their title.
City lost ground on the league leaders when they went down 2-0 at home to Arsenal on Sunday, a result that leaves them five points behind Chelsea.
Defeat at Stamford Bridge would extend that gap to eight points but Pellegrini his hoping that his side can rediscover their form that brought them a 13-match unbeaten run before Arsenal's visit and reduce the advantage Jose Mourinho's side have.
"We still have to play against Chelsea so it will be a very decisive game," Pellegrini said. "We will try to win to close that gap again.
"It is important because it is a long way to recover the eight points. Now they are five points in front, we have to play against Chelsea and we will try to prepare to win that game and close that gap again. We must close the gap to two points.
"I don't think this is finished. With a win or draw we can continue fighting."
The defeat by Arsenal, courtesy of a first-half penalty by Santi Cazorla and a second-half header by Olivier Giroud, was the fourth successive match that City have failed to win in the Barclays Premier League without Yaya Toure, who is with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, Pellegrini refused to accept that the midfielder's absence played a role in the defeat.
"Yaya is a very important player, but I never have excuses," Pellegrini said. "We play other games without Yaya and can win also. I never have excuses with one or two players why we don't win."
Instead, Pellegrini admitted his side lacked a creative spark and failed to ask enough questions of the Arsenal defence.
"We were not a creative team, we didn't have the ideas to cause damage in their defence," he said. "We have a lot of time on the ball, but without creativity it is not possible to score goals.
"I always give credit to the team that wins the game. Arsenal played very concentrated. We ran the whole game, pressed very well, but we didn't have the ideas of how to create the space in their defence. I think we are a better team than the way we played."