MANCHESTER -- Manuel Pellegrini has taken a veiled swipe at Jose Mourinho by declaring that the managers of the major clubs cannot deny they are expected to compete for the title.
The Manchester City boss takes his side to Liverpool on Sunday insisting both Brendan Rodgers' league leaders and his title favourites are under the same pressure to become champions.
But whereas Chelsea manager Mourinho has consistently tried to downplay expectations -- arguing his side are "little horses" and insisting that City, Liverpool and Arsenal have better chances -- Arsene Wenger was open about his side's ambitions, earning Pellegrini's admiration for his willingness to accept the pressure.
"That's why I have so much respect for Arsene Wenger, saying Arsenal can do it," the Chilean stated at a news conference, suggesting the Frenchman has not shirked his responsibilities as the coach of an elite team.
"Afterwards if they can't do it then it's another problem. But if you are at an important club you can't say: 'We don't have pressure to win a title. The other clubs have it all.' I think the two [other] teams [Chelsea and Liverpool] have the same pressure [as City].
"I don't like to take the pressure [from] my team. I think all big teams know they must play with pressure. I don't try to take advantage and say: 'We don't have any pressure because we play away' or: 'They are the best team, they are top of the table'."
Mourinho has argued that Liverpool have had an advantage because they have not competed in the Champions League or the Europa League this season, but Pellegrini believes the Merseysiders will be worthy champions if they top the final table.
"If Liverpool win the title, it will be because of the way they've played in the Premier League, not because they've not been in Europe," he continued.
While few tipped Liverpool for the title at the start of the season, Pellegrini believes Rodgers has had the same expectations as his counterparts at other major clubs.
He explained: "I can’t believe such an important team as Liverpool, his manager has no pressure to win the title. I think everyone who manages Liverpool has that pressure."
And Pellegrini insisted that he has regarded Liverpool as potential champions since his appointment at City.
"Big teams always have a chance to win the title," he said. "I think Liverpool is a big team with very good players and a good manager so when we start the season I was sure that Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham will be fighting for the title from the beginning. For me, it is not a surprise."
City go into Sunday’s game four points off leaders Liverpool in third place, but with two game in hand over Rodgers' side -- and they will be champions if they win their seven remaining games.