Football

City hope to catch reds napping

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini will hope to exploit Liverpool's staying power after their draining European exploits in tomorrow night's crucial English Premier League clash.

But the Chilean but does not believe fatigue 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 8pm kick-off on Merseyside.

City should go into the game much fresher, having not played since last Tuesday while Liverpool returned from their Europa League game at Besiktas only at about 12.30pm yesterday (Singapore time).

Pellegrini said: "I think that 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.

"If we think we are going to win that game because Liverpool arrived back late, that is not the reason.

"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 those are the rules. They are playing Europa League."

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 seem to be building momentum for a top-four charge, but Pellegrini is not attaching too much significance to it.

He said: "We must play very good because they also have a strong squad. I don't think they will play the same starting 11 as on Thursday. They are a strong team and it is a difficult stadium."

City were outplayed last Tuesday as they lost the first leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 tie to Barcelona 2-1. But on the home front, they beaten Stoke and Newcastle 4-1 and 5-0 respectively.

Pellegrini added: "It is very important to beat Liverpool and to continue winning, and continue fighting until the end to retain the title." - PA Sport.