Monday 18 December 2017

Martinez sees grounds for optimism ahead of 'unique' Merseyside derby

Everton manager Roberto Martinez
Everton manager Roberto Martinez

Ian Herbert

Liverpool can go top of the Premier League, at least for a couple of hours, by beating Everton at Goodison Park today, while the blue half of Merseyside can go level on points with their arch rivals by winning a game which offers more grounds for optimism in both camps than for many years.

"It is a confident derby," Everton boss Roberto Martinez (right) reflected, "a game which both teams are looking forward to. It's not like when you are struggling for a win and you feel a little bit inferior. This one is quite unique – two teams with very similar football concepts who have both had a good start to the season and it is a good opportunity for us because we are playing at home.''

Liverpool are 11 points better off than they were after 11 games last season following their best start to a Premier League campaign in five years. They have scored more league goals in the calendar year – 61 – than any other top-flight team.

Everton, for their part, are unbeaten in the calendar year at Goodison Park in the league – a run of 14 games in which they have conceded only eight goals and kept nine clean sheets.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is yet to manage a team to victory over Everton. He lost both games when in charge of Swansea, while Liverpool drew both games with their neighbours last season.

Rodgers is considering giving a derby debut to 20-year-old left-back Jon Flanagan.

Irish Independent

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