With Chelsea’s involvement in the Capital One Cup Final against Tottenham this weekend, Manchester City have been handed the chance to close the gap on Chelsea to two point by travelling to Anfield this weekend and beating last season’s title rivals Liverpool.
“A win is important psychologically and also mathematically.” said Pellegrini who said it was vital to close the gap while the opportunity was available and confirmed that all players were available for the game, with Yaya Toure returning to the squad after serving the last game of his Champions League suspension.
Manuel Pellegrini has defended his Manchester City captain’s recent performances after criticism from TV pundits such as Paul Scholes after a poor game against Barcelona on Tuesday night.
Kompany’s first half error after just 16 minutes led to an opening for former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez to fire home from an acute angle after his attempted header came back of Kompany who lost his bearings allowing the Uruguayan to react first and fire the ball past Joe Hart.
Suarez scored his second on the half hour mark after flicking Jordi Alba’s cross past a static defence, marking his return to England with a first half brace for his new club and Pellegrini acknowledged the contribution that the controversial Uruguayan had last season at Anfield when Liverpool almost won the title before an eventful World Cup and sealing a dream move to Barcelona.
“For any team to lose Suarez is important. Liverpool miss him and it’s not easy for any team to solve that but any team should not depend on just one player.” said Pellegrini who must have been glad that Brendan Rodgers won’t have the luxury of picking Suarez on Sunday.
Pellegrini dismissed Scholes’ remarks on TV about Kompany’s recent form and backed him to return to his usual dominant self at Anfield against Suarez’ former club.
“We played in moments of the Barcelona game for 25 minutes without any problems and all of the second half without problems.” said Pellegrini.
“Vincent is an experienced player with a strong character and he must receive the criticism that everyone receives when our team doesn’t have the performance that everyone hopes for.
“It’s not a problem for him and I am sure he will have a strong reaction.
“I don’t think that you can criticise him after one or two poor games because he’s also coming back from a long injury and it’s not easy to return with 100% performance.” added Pellegrini.
City’s record at Anfield is relatively poor, with no wins in their last 11 league visits to Liverpool stretching back over ten years to May 2003 when they last won with a brace of goals by Nicolas Anelka.
Liverpool lost their Europa League tie against Besiktas after playing two hours due to extra time and penalties in Istanbul to Besiktas and only arrived back in England at 4.30am on Friday – hardly the ideal preparation for a crucial league game but Pellegrini warned against assuming it would be easy against a team that he conceded would have inadequate time to prepare for the visit of City on Sunday.
“You can’t prepare for the game after you finish on Thursday night and play again Sunday.
“The players need at least 48 hours to recover. It’s an advantage for the other team but not a decisive one.
“If we think that we will win that game because Liverpool arrived yesterday night late I don’t think this will be the reason.
“We must play very well because they have a strong squad and won’t play the same players that they did on Thursday night.” reasoned the Chilean.
Sunday’s game could see fans from both sides unveiling protest banners complaining about match ticket prices in the Premier League.