Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says victory in the Capital One Cup final over Liverpool at Wembley can help reignite the club's title challenge. Two straight league defeats have seen Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal pull away from City, who are six points adrift from the summit.
City head into the first showcase final of the season having returned to form in the Champions League last 16 first leg against Dynamo Kiev. Three away goals has put Pellegrini's side on the brink of reaching the quarter-final for the first time but now attention turns to claiming the first major trophy of the campaign.
Liverpool thumped City 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium in November 2015 and with Jurgen Klopp's side having lost just one of their last five, they go into the game in marginally better form. Nevertheless, Pellegrini is confident his side can rise to the occasion and has sent a strong warning to title rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.
"It's a very important week – as you said, we won the first leg but it's not finished even though that was an important result playing away and now we hope to qualify at home," the City manager told reporters. "To play a big final at Wembley against Liverpool is very important too. It's my mentality to try to win all the time.
"To win in February one title that gives you a lot of trust to continue fighting for other competitions. We are six points behind the leaders in the Premier League and we will continue to fight to the end –this could give us a lot of trust if we are successful on Sunday."
A string of injuries led to Pellegrini fielding five full debutants in the FA Cup fifth round at Chelsea, before restoring his big-name players in Ukraine. There were initial fears Vincent Kompany, Raheem Sterling and Bacary Sagna could be absent as they trained away from the main group on 27 February but Pellegrini says the trio plus the returning Eliaquim Mangala, Jesus Navas and Wilfried Bony are all available.
"Sagna, Kompany and Sterling are recovering separately after the game but I hope the three of them will be fit," he added. "Mangala, Navas and Bony are training normally and are available for selection. For everyone, Wembley is one of the most important stadiums in the world. To play a final there creates a different atmosphere. It's a special thing. That's why I respect every cup so much."