Manchester City-Queens Park Rangers Preview
Manuel Pellegrini will now turn his attention away from his Manchester City side's European failures towards greener pastures starting with Saturday's trip to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers.
The defending Premier League champions now find themselves propping up the table in Group E in the Champions League following a shock 2-1 defeat to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. City have two points from four matches, and could be eliminated from the competition in the next match against Bayern Munich.
Pellegrini's side finished with nine men on Wednesday, as halftime substitute Fernandinho and goal scorer Yaya Toure were sent off in the second half.
Toure's free-kick cancelled out fellow Ivorian Seydou Doumbia's opener for the visitors. But Doumbia struck again before halftime, and although City held the edge in possession thereafter they never broke through the Russians' defence.
Pellegrini said that his side are suffering through a "crisis of confidence."
''It's very difficult to understand why we played so badly,'' Pellegrini said. ''From the beginning we were so nervous and we gave them the two goals. Really, we didn't play. The first half especially, we didn't see the team we normally see. We didn't shoot once at their goal, we just had Yaya's free-kick, and we gave away two easy goals.''
City sit in third place in the league with 20 points - six fewer than leaders Chelsea. They won 1-0 in the Manchester derby over United on Sunday on Sergio Aguero's league-leading 10th goal.
City have the joint second-best defence in the Premier League with Chelsea and Swansea City, having conceded 10 goals in as many matches. They have surrendered six goals in four European contests.
"Conceding is something that we don't take lightly," goalkeeper Joe Hart said. "It is happening far too much but like I say we are going to have to really dig deep as a team. We are a good team and we have got depth and we have got ability and we are going to put it altogether."
Rangers may not provide such a soft touch this weekend, though they sit one spot above bottom with seven points. Harry Redknapp's side have battled in three straight lively efforts, losing 3-2 to Liverpool on Oct. 19, winning 2-0 over Aston Villa on Oct. 27 and falling 2-1 at Chelsea last Saturday.
"We knew that the performances at the start of the season were way below par and the fans deserve better than that, us as human beings want to put in better performances than that and we want to stay in this Premier League so I think we've had to dig deep, I think we've had two good performances," defender Steven Caulker said.
Charlie Austin, a 25-year-old forward who's playing his first season in the Premier League after years toiling in the lower divisions, has three goals with one assist in his last three games. He has five of Rangers' eight goals with an own goal accounting for one more.
Veteran defender Rio Ferdinand remains banned for derogatory comments he made on Twitter.
City won three times and drew once when Rangers were in the top flight from 2011-13.