LONDON Monday's match between Manchester City and Liverpool, the top two teams in last season's Premier League, will effectively be worth six points to the winners, City's manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Friday.
The Manchester club, who finished two points clear at the top of the table after Liverpool faltered in the last month of the campaign, have home advantage and their Chilean manager said they must make it count.
"I always say to the players these games are games of six points, especially when you play at home against one of the most important squads in the Premier League in Liverpool," he told a news conference.
"I cannot know whether Liverpool will be affected by last season or not. My way of thinking is that last season is finished and we are not thinking about it anymore.
"These are different games and different moments but it is important for our team to start winning points at home."
Even if Liverpool sign maverick striker Mario Balotelli from AC Milan, he will not be eligible to play on Monday and Pellegrini said he thought they will miss Luis Suarez, who has been sold to Barcelona.
As for his own squad, the City manager believes that despite winning 2-0 at Newcastle on the opening weekend of the season, they will need more time to become fully fit.
"For this week, most of the players will be not 100 percent but mostly ready," he added. "We have 13 or 14 players that are still in pre-season.
"We are just starting the season and maybe we don’t have our squad in full fitness but this week, we have worked very hard and very well so I hope we can do a very good game."
(Writing by Steve Tongue, editing by Ed Osmond)