KENNY DALGLISH has played down the animosity between Liverpool and Everton ahead of this evening's Merseyside derby.
Everton make the short trip to Anfield looking for their first Premier League win there since 1999.
If that statistic suggests a lack of competitiveness in the fixture, the fact there have been 11 red cards in the last 14 league meetings between the sides tells a different story.
Dalglish said: "The derbies are perhaps more frantic and hectic but they will still be competitive.
"It will always be competitive but it is not malicious -- and if it is not competitive you have a problem.
"You cannot take away the competitive spirit of a derby match. If you do that you may as well close the doors and not let anyone in.
"It is a great game to play in, there is a fantastic atmosphere, and the city should be very proud it has two fantastic clubs.
"Overall I think both the clubs have done more good than harm for the city."
Dalglish believes the derby could be just what his side need to shake themselves from their current run.
Defeat at Sunderland at the weekend was the first time since 2003 the Reds had lost three successive league matches.
Performances have varied wildly from the dominant display against Arsenal on their last appearance at Anfield to the disappointing show at the Stadium of Light.
But Dalglish knows there is nothing like a derby, with the added atmosphere of being played under floodlights, to give people the necessary lift.
"It is a massive game, like any derby is for any club involved in one," said the Scot. "We know how much enjoyment the people get out of winning the game, but the players get a lot of enjoyment out of it also.
"The winners get to enjoy it. You get the bragging rights for the city but both clubs come straight out of that into two FA Cup quarter-final ties so you don't get much time to rest on your laurels -- and you wouldn't want to either."
Dalglish accepts their current run is not acceptable at a club of Liverpool's stature, although he maintains with more good fortune things would have been better.
"It depends what teams you're playing, but certainly it's not a record you expect from Liverpool," added the Reds boss, who has never lost successive league matches at Anfield in either of his spells in charge.
"We don't want to get into the habit of losing games, but in between the (three) losses we've had a Carling Cup victory. I think in both our last defeats we deserved more than what we got."
LIVERPOOL v EVERTON
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