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Arsenal game more important than Bayern: Pellegrini

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini (C) conducts a training session in Munich December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini (C) conducts a training session in Munich December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

(Reuters) - Manchester City will rest key players against Champions League holders Bayern Munich on Tuesday with an eye on next weekend's game against Premier League leaders Arsenal, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Monday.

City and Bayern have both qualified for the knockout stages from Group D, Bayern with a perfect 15 points from five games and City with 12, their only defeat coming in a 3-1 loss in the home match against the German champions.

"Of course, if you ask me at this moment, the game against Arsenal next weekend is more important than the game against Bayern Munich," Pellegrini told reporters.

"From the moment we qualified for the next round, the Premier League became more important than Champions League.

"I will not change my tactics. Maybe because we are playing away, I do a different thing but, if I was to play that game again, I would do exactly the same," Pellegrini said of the 3-1 defeat by Bayern in October.

He confirmed that England goalkeeper Joe Hart, dropped after a poor game against Bayern and other high-profile errors, will start the match at the Allianz Arena ahead of Costel Pantilimon.

Midfielder Yaya Toure is suspended and Pellegrini plans to rest other key players, although he did not name them.

"That does not mean there is a possibility that the players who play against Bayern Munich will not play against Arsenal," the Chilean added.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola is determined to finish top of the standings and he is not under-estimating City despite outplaying them in the first meeting in Manchester.

"Coming second in the group is not really an option for us," he said. "It is something we want to avoid."

Bayern beat Arsenal 3-1 in London in the first leg of last season's round of 16 but lost the home game to the Premier League side 2-0 to sneak through on away goals.

"I know how dangerous Manchester City are. They have great players - they can get three or four chances within minutes. If we don't play well, City could get one, two, three goals.

(Reporting By Tony Goodson, editing by Ed Osmond)

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