On the world stage, the Merseyside Derby might not attract the same level of interest that meetings with Manchester United does, but locally, it’ll be next to impossible to buy Liverpool football tickets for anywhere in the ground when Everton make the short trip across Stanley Park this weekend. The Toffees will arrive in fine form, sitting a mere six points behind their Red neighbours, but the narrow gap between the two sides doesn’t seem to be causing any panic in the Anfield dressing room.
“I don’t think about [Everton’s form] or worry about that,” insisted Liverpool talisman Philippe Coutinho, who is currently on international duty with Brazil. “Right now, Liverpool is higher in the league,” explained the 24-year old, sounding a touch dismissive. “That’s the reality and that’s all we have to think about.”
If the Toffee’s dismal record at Anfield can speak for itself, so can their form over their past six matches. Scoring 17-goals along the way, they’ve kept up the pressure on on the teams chasing both Europa League and Champions League places for next season and could play a major role in the race for both as the campaign draws to a close. The Reds, for their part, go into the meeting with Everton sitting pretty in fourth place, but they’ve got no choice but to keep winning if they want to hang on to it. Their blue neighbours can cut the gap with a win on the weekend, but the real concern comes from both United and Arsenal who are hot on Liverpool’s heels and each hold two matches in hand.
“We will be ready. The derby is a very special match for everyone, the fans and the players,” insisted Coutinho, knowing full well what’s at stake. “We know what it means. The people of Liverpool live this match with so much emotion and this time it is even more because Everton have improved so much in recent weeks,” added the Brazilian. “We know it won’t be easy, but we know we have to win, for our fans, for our morale and for everybody.”