Brendan Rodgers has called upon his Liverpool players not to lose their composure in the passion and intensity of what could prove to be one of the most important Merseyside derbies in recent memory. Liverpool go into Tuesday’s clash with Everton just a point clear of their local rivals in the battle for the fourth and final Champions League place. The two sides drew 3-3 in a thrilling, yet kamikaze-like, contest in November and Rodgers is eager for his team not to lose sight of their principals honed on the training pitch.
“Sometimes the tactical element goes out of the window and the whole atmosphere can dictate that the game goes a different way,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website.
"It's important that you retain your composure in order to play and have that confidence with the ball. That would certainly be a message for the players. When you're the home team, you look to really go and attack the game. But it's very important in games like this that you have that tactical discipline as well.”
Liverpool played a strong side in a 2-0 win at Bournemouth in the FA Cup on Saturday, although Rodgers had little flexibility due a lengthy injury list. Lucas Leiva, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson and Josie Enrique will definitely be ruled out, although Joe Allen could be passed fit, having returned having returned to training.
The importance of qualifying for the Champions League has led Rodgers to be bold in his belief that the club needs to bolster his squad in the current transfer window. Certainly, Liverpool struggled last time out in the Premier League in a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, although the presence of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge gives them a chance of getting something from any game.
Everton also endured a blip last time out in the league, with a lackluster 1-1 draw at West Brom. And Roberto Martinez’s side have also endured their fair share of injury problems. Most recently, Bryan Oviedo has been ruled out for the long term after suffering a horrific double fracture of his leg in their 4-0 FA Cup victory over Stevenage. Youngsters Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu remain sidelined, but Steven Pienaar and Seamus Coleman could return.
Having struggled at the home of the Premier League’s big guns under previous manager David Moyes, Martinez has already led Everton to a victory at Manchester United as well as a credible draw at Arsenal. And the former Wigan boss believes those results show that his players have the confidence to go toe-to-toe with the league’s best.
“Before the game at Old Trafford and the Emirates there was a question whether we were mentally ready to be ourselves whatever the situation," he said, according to Everton’s official website. "I think we have proven we can be. “The way we performed at the Emirates and the way we got the three points at Old Trafford shows that the team is ready to go anywhere and impose themselves. Those are the games that if you want to achieve big things, you need to enjoy them and embrace them. If you are not going to enjoy those games, you are not going to be at your best.”
Where to watch: The Merseyside derby will kick off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.