Manchester City target Reds` Euro fatigue
Manuel Pellegrini believes Liverpool`s exertions in Europe will provide Manchester City with an advantage when the teams meet at Anfield in a crucial Premier League clash on Sunday.
Liverpool: Manuel Pellegrini believes Liverpool`s exertions in Europe will provide Manchester City with an advantage when the teams meet at Anfield in a crucial Premier League clash on Sunday.
Liverpool only returned to Merseyside at 0420 GMT on Friday after being knocked out of the Europa League by Turkish club Besiktas, so Brendan Rodgers` side have little time to recover before they return to action in Sunday`s early game.
Second placed City would dearly love a win to close the gap on leaders Chelsea, who have a five-point advantage but don`t play in the league this weekend due to their League Cup final date with Tottenham on Sunday.
And Pellegrini, who saw his City side beaten 2-1 by Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 first leg at Eastlands on Tuesday, knows Liverpool`s face a tough return to domestic action.
"I think that of course it is an advantage, not a decisive one because I always think the decisive thing is the performance on the day of the game," Pellegrini said.
"I have played in the Europa League and when you arrive on Friday it is not the best way to prepare for a game on Sunday but that is the rules.
"They are playing Europa League. Maybe another time we prepare worse for the game.
"You cannot prepare the game because you finish on Thursday night and you must play on Sunday, the players need at least 48 hours to recover.
"It is an advantage for the other team but it is not a decisive one."City were beaten 3-2 at Anfield late last season as the club marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, and Pellegrini hopes for a different outcome this time.
"It was a very special day also and it was a very emotional day," Pellegrini said.
"It was a very close game. We couldn`t win for different reasons. This year we go with the same mentality, to try to win and try to be an aggressive team and an attacking team from the beginning.
"If we think we are going to win that game because Liverpool arrived late, that is not the reason.
"We must play very good because they also have a strong squad. I don`t think they will play the same starting line-up as Thursday night."
Pellegrini has a fully fit squad to choose from and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is expected to return to the team after being suspended for the Barcelona defeat.
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has urged his team-mates to quickly put the shake off the disappointment of losing to Besiktas on penalties.
"We have to look forward and prepare ourselves as best we can. We need to recover and then go again on Sunday," Mignolet said.
"It`s another big game and we need to try to get back to winning ways. We have to focus on the job in hand.
"I`ve always said when you win and when you lose, it`s always as a squad. You are always together in good moments and bad moments."
Mignolet believes that despite Liverpool`s exit from the Europa League closing the door on one potential route to the Champions League, they can still secure a return to Europe`s elite club competition via a top-four finish in the Premier League.
"We always said we want to get in the Champions League for next season," he added.
"Of course we can do it. We`re still in the FA Cup and we`re close to the top four in the Premier League so there is still a lot to play for this season."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is poised to recall Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson to his starting line-up after the midfield pair were rested for the trip to Turkey.
Reds skipper Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and defender Mamadou Sakho (hip) both face fitness tests.