Manuel Pellegrini: Liverpool’s Europa League jet lag will not be decisive for Manchester City

The Etihad boss has refused to write off Brendan Rodgers’ side despite Reds only returning to UK in the early hours of Friday morning.

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Manuel Pellegrini has warned his Manchester City players not to write off Liverpool because of their nightmare preparations for Sunday’s noon showdown at Anfield.

Pellegrini admits City have an advantage because Liverpool did not arrive back home until 4.20am on Friday from their penalty shoot-out defeat to Besiktas in the Europa League.

But the Blues boss says they must not assume they will record their first win at Anfield since 2003 because Liverpool have so little time to recover.

“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,” said Pellegrini.

“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.

“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.

“I have played in the Europa League and when you arrive on Friday, it’s not the best way to prepare for a game on Sunday, but those are the rules.

“They are playing Europa League. Maybe another time, we prepare worse for the game.”

Pellegrini, who reported no injuries ahead of Sunday’s game, is more focused on seizing the chance to close the gap on Chelsea to two points in the title race.

Manchester City players pictured during training ahead of their tie against FC Barcelona

“Yes, of course it’s important, more than psychologically, it is important mathematically,” said the Chilean.

“We’re going to have three points more, we’re going to go two points behind Chelsea because they do not play the next game.

“Last season, I remember we were nine points behind Chelsea with three games in hand, but we were nine points behind, and then you have the pressure to win those three games.

“It is very important to beat Liverpool because they are a strong team and have a difficult stadium.

“We want to continue winning in the Premier League in the way we did in the last two games because we won 4-1 and 5-0 against Stoke and Newcastle and continue fighting until the end to retain the title.

“We have to play 36 points more. That is a lot of points and as soon as we close the gap, the better for us.”

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