Friday 25 May 2018

Roberto Martinez claims Liverpool are favourites for Merseyside derby

Roberto Martinez has made Liverpool favourites for the Merseyside derby
Roberto Martinez has made Liverpool favourites for the Merseyside derby

Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists it is Liverpool who should be viewed as favourites for Sunday's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park given the amount of money they have spent in recent years.

The Toffees go into the contest in encouraging form, having taken eight points from their previous four Barclays Premier League matches, and they are currently fifth in the table.

That is four places higher than the Reds, whose victory over Aston Villa last Saturday was their first in five league fixtures.

However, Martinez has suggested expectation should be on Brendan Rodgers' men due to what they have paid out in the transfer market.

The combined total of the fees for Liverpool's signings this summer came to around £80million, roughly four times that of Everton's.

And Martinez said on Friday: ''If you take the way we have started, we are showing a little bit of form and that could see us as favourites.

''But if you look at it in terms of the amount of money Liverpool spent over the last three seasons, clearly they need to be the favourites and the ones carrying expectations.''

Rodgers has been under considerable pressure of late, but Martinez says it is "normal" for a manager at their level.

''I think the pressure is the nature of the game,'' he said.

''It is normal and it goes with not winning games. If you win, you are just looking forward to the next game, if you don't, you are under pressure. I think we all accept that.''

Everton last beat Liverpool five years ago and Martinez, who has been Toffees manager for the last two seasons, is eager to get his first Merseyside derby victory on the board.

''I know how important it is to get a victory in the derby,'' he said.

''You only need to speak with our fans - building up to the game, it has an extra significant meaning.

''Getting three points would allow us to make a really promising start a really exciting start, and the derby is a fixture in which we want to give our fans a real sense of satisfaction.''

Martinez will make a late decision on whether key defenders John Stones and Seamus Coleman are fit enough to feature on Sunday.

Stones sat out Monday's win at West Brom due to a knee problem, while Coleman has missed three games because of a hamstring complaint.

Asked if they would be able to play against Liverpool, Martinez said: "It is too early to tell. In the next two sessions we will get a clear idea.

"They have progressed well since the West Brom game and we will make a decision as late as we can - we are going to leave it probably until the day of the game."

Midfielder Muhamed Besic, who has also been out for three games nursing a hamstring injury, is not expected to be available and winger Kevin Mirallas is still suspended.

Press Association

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