Premier League bigfour no longer invincible says Manchester City's Mark Hughes
19 October 2009 09:49
Manchester City are showing signs of being able to compete with the best in England and they are now in fifth place, five points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand, after grinding out a 1-1 draw with 10 men at Wigan on Sunday.
Hughes's 120-million-pounds spending spree during the close-season has laid the foundations for City to break the monopoly on the Champions League places enjoyed for so long by United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.
With Tottenham and Aston Villa also strong and Liverpool and Chelsea both losing this weekend, Hughes senses the Premier League's elite are starting to get twitchy.
"There are some good teams in the Premier League this year," the Manchester City boss said. "There is a focus on ourselves because we have the ambition to have a good season.
"But the fact there is a threat to the teams who have had those top four places is adding extra pressure.
"You just sense maybe that feeling of invincibility is no longer there. Other teams think they can take points off them.
"There are two or three teams who quietly think they can get into the top four.
"They don't broadcast it so they keep themselves under the radar. We can't help but be one of the teams people think should be in the top four.
"We have to deal with that anyway. I just think this year has the potential to be as open as it has ever been because the top four teams will drop points.
"That has been evident at the beginning of the season and I think it will continue. It is good for the Premier League."
But for City defender Pablo Zabaleta's second half dismissal it is likely Hughes's side would have taken three points at the DW Stadium.
Hughes felt Zabaleta's first-half caution for a foul on Maynor Figueroa was harsh. However, his second tackle on Jason Scotland left referee Alan Wiley with little alternative other than to show the red card.
It was Wiley's first appearance since Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's attack on his fitness, for which the Scot has since apologised.
Hughes didn't complain about the dismissal but he did claim that Figueroa's tackle on Shaun Wright-Phillips in the closing stages should have been a penalty.
"He was in an excellent position - he had kept up with play very well," Hughes said.
"He made a wrong call but his positioning was excellent. Well done Mr Wiley."
Charles N'Zogbia had given Wigan the lead in first half stoppage time before Martin Petrov lashed City level two minutes into the second half.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez took heart from the way his side out-played City in the first half and said: "I would say the performance was well worth a victory.
"Manchester City are an outstanding team with a fabulous group of players but our performance deserved the three points."