Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany will miss Sunday's meeting with a Liverpool team Roberto Mancini believes can finish in the top four.
The Belgian is not expected to be back for the FA Cup tie against Leeds on February 17, meaning he will also sit out the Premier League trip to Southampton next week, with Mancini confirming: "Vinnie is out. I hope he can recover after the FA Cup."
Liverpool are yet to beat a team in the top half of the Premier League but Mancini, who watched their 2-2 draw against Arsenal, feels the Reds can realise their ambition of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in four years.
"Yes, if they continue to play like in the last month because they did well," Mancini said. "It will be a dangerous game on Sunday. If we want to win, we should play well and score when we have a chance."
The Italian sympathises with his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers, who is trying to get Liverpool to play his way, adding: "When you want to change it is difficult sometimes. He did some good results and Liverpool are always a strong team."
If Manchester United beat Fulham on Saturday, City will kick off 10 points behind their neighbours but Mancini is confident his side will soon be much closer to their title rivals.
"The gap could also be 12 but this won't change," Mancini said. "In every championship, one team has never won a title in January. We should fight until April. If they have seven, eight, nine points [advantage] in April, it could be difficult, maybe but in this moment we have a big chance. But I think that when we arrive at the end of February, the gap will be very, very small."