Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has said that his side hold the advantage of Liverpool going into Sunday’s game thanks to the Reds’ tiring trip to Besiktas.
Liverpool, who were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday evening, will have had 48 hours less rest than City, who lost 2-1 at home against Barcelona on Tuesday.
The Reds flew back to England immediately after the penalty shoot out defeat to Besiktas in Istanbul and will have Saturday to prepare for the key encounter with Premiership champions City.
And Pellegrini thinks that the trip to Turkey will take its toll on Liverpool – which will play into City’s hands.
“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.” he said.
“Of course it is an advantage but not a decisive one because I always think the decisive thing is the performance on the day of the game.
“But 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.
“If we think we are going to win that game because Liverpool arrive yesterday night 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 11 as yesterday night.”
City need the win to close the gap on Chelsea to just two points with the league leaders playing Spurs in the League Cup final on Sunday afternoon.
“It is important. More than psychologically, it is important mathematically.” Pellegrini said.
City have a poor record at Anfield and have not won away at Liverpool since a Nicolas Anelka inspired side won 2-1 there in 2003. In fact, Anfield is the only Premiership ground City have not won at since Sheikh Mansour took control of the club – and Pellegrini is out to change that.
“You must change it,” he explained. “This year we won at Stoke. In the last six years we never do that.” the Chilean said.