also foresees a very championship race, saying: "This year I think the pressure will be not only to win the title, it will be to get into the top four. It will be hard. I think Manchester City is a big, big favourite."
He said Liverpool, managed by Brendan Rodgers who worked under him at Chelsea during Mourinho's first stint in charge, had an edge by not being involved in European competition.
"Liverpool are on holiday this season. They have a big advantage because they have one week to prepare the match, then they play the match - because they are not involved in the heat of the knockout of the Champions League or even the Europa League," the Portuguese said.
"The manager (Rodgers) is one of my best friends in the game. I have full respect for a team like Liverpool. He's doing a fantastic job. He's training every week in a calm way, training every day.
"He has a big advantage compared to the other teams... It's easier for a team that does that every day, every week," said Mourinho, who has bemoaned being unable to work on tactics with his team because of the frequency of matches.
Chelsea will be without their suspended Brazil midfielder Ramires, who is likely to be replaced by England's Frank Lampard on an afternoon when captain John Terry is set to make his 600th appearance for the west London club.
Ivanovic is expected to continue at right back and, rejecting any chance to talk about Suarez, the Serbia international stressed the importance of the fixture.
"It's going to be a very important game for us, one of the deciding games this season," he said. "We must be ready for the big fight. Our team likes to play big games and big challenges."