Santa Cruz says it is the Reds who should be feeling the pressure ahead of the game.
He said: “People say this is a big game for City, to prove we are worthy of being called a big club. But this is also a big game for Liverpool.
“They’ll look at us and see us above them in the table.
“Our main aim is to be in one of the Champions League places by finishing in the top four.
“So we need to go to Liverpool and prove we can take one of those places they want to be involved in.
“Next year we want to be playing in the Champions League at Manchester City.”
He added: “You can see from the past United always wanted to beat Liverpool, even though they were the champions.
“Big games like this are always different – they bring a lot of motivation to the players and are always special.
“I’m sure we will approach the game thinking in the same way that United do – that Liverpool are contenders we need to beat.”