Friday 23 February 2018

Pellegrini confident Liverpool's sleepless night will give City an advantage

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini

Andy Hampson

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini thinks Liverpool's draining European exploits could give his side an advantage for tomorrow's crucial league clash.

But the Chilean does not believe it will be a major factor and has warned that his side still have an important job to do at Anfield.

With Chelsea involved in the League Cup final, City can cut the London side's lead at the top of the table to two points with a victory in the noon kick-off on Merseyside.

City should go into the game much fresher, having not played since Tuesday while Liverpool only returned from their Europa League game at Besiktas at 4.30am on Friday.

Pellegrini (right) said: "Of course it is an advantage, (but) not a decisive one. If we think we are going to win that game because Liverpool arrived yesterday night late, that is not the reason.

"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."

Pellegrini opened himself up for criticism given that last month his team only returned from a winter training camp in Abu Dhabi the night before their FA Cup loss to Middlesbrough.

But there are differences given that City tried to time their journey to allow optimum rest while Liverpool effectively lost a night's sleep after their match went to penalties and their return flight was delayed.

The disrupted preparation could blunt Liverpool's edge just as they were building momentum for a top-four charge, but Pellegrini is not attaching too much significance to it, saying: "I don't think they will play the same starting 11. They are a strong team and it is a difficult stadium."

City were outplayed on Tuesday as they lost the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie to Barcelona 2-1. But on the home front they have been much more fluent in their last two games, beating Stoke and Newcastle 4-1 and 5-0 respectively.

The defeats of City and Liverpool this week came amid a difficult spell for English sides in Europe.

Pellegrini said: "I don't think it is about the level of English football but I think there are a lot of things that maybe are important reasons why the results have happened.

"The Premier League is very strong and every game you must play 95 minutes at 100pc intensity. Maybe in other leagues it is not so hard every game.

"In December and January, especially in December, you have to play nine games. Last year we played 18 games in two months. Maybe it is not the best way to prepare for the knockout stages in Europe.

"But there are a lot of things and also this year was not a good performance of the teams."

Indo Sport

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