Manuel Pellegrini’s men return to the scene of one of last season’s most agonising defeats, hoping to close the gap on Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to just two points
Manuel Pellegrini has called on Manchester City to respond to their midweek defeat to Barcelona by ending the club’s long wait for a win at Liverpool on Sunday.
The Premier League champions will need to pull off a surprise fightback at Camp Nou in March if they are to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals after they were beaten 2-1 at home.
It could have been worse for City, who were indebted to Joe Hart for saving a last-gasp penalty from Lionel Messi to give them hope in the second leg.
Pellegrini’s side must now ensure that their week does not go from bad to worse on Merseyside, where they will have an opportunity to cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League to only two points as the leaders face Tottenham in the League Cup final.
Liverpool beat City 3-2 at Anfield last April to take a giant stride towards winning the title, only for Brendan Rodgers’s side to slip up and open the door for City to be crowned champions.
You have to go back May 2003 for the visitors’ last victory at Anfield and Pellegrini has stressed the importance of ending that dismal 12-match run on Sunday.
The former Malaga coach told reporters: “You must change it. This year we won at Stoke. In the last six years we never did that.”
Liverpool are also licking their wounds following the disappointment of Thursday’s Europa League exit at Besiktas on penalties and Pellegrini wants City to make the most of their opponents coming into the game on the back of a game in Turkey only three days earlier.
He added: “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.
“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 XI as yesterday night.”
City will welcome back Yaya Toure from his European suspension and Pellegrini has no injuries with which to contend.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho is expected to return to the Liverpool side after being rested on Thursday, while Lazar Markovic is back in contention after missing the Besiktas defeat due to a European ban of his own.
Liverpool, unbeaten in 10 Premier League games, will check on the fitness of captain Steven Gerrard (hamstring), Jordan Henderson (ankle), Mamadou Sakho (hip) and Glen Johnson (illness).