Deflated Dalglish seeking derby lift

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes tonight’s Merseyside 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 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 people get out of winning the game but the players get a lot out 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.”

Recent results have virtually ended Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League but now, of more concern, is the pressure coming from below.

Defeat by Everton would see their near-neighbours overtake them and after their poor start to the campaign that would be seen as a major achievement across the other side of Stanley Park.

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.’’

Everton make the short trip to Anfield looking for their first league win there since 1999 but Dalglish does not think either side will need additional motivation.

And he expects only a fully-committed affair on the pitch despite 20 players being sent off in the past 39 league meetings with 11 coming in the past 14 games.

“The derbies are perhaps more frantic and hectic but they will still be competitive,” he said.

“It will always be competitive but it is not malicious.’’

Everton boss David Moyes feels the respective form of his side and Liverpool will count for little tonight.

He said: “A lot of the years I have gone into the game and Liverpool have been the form team, and folk have said: ‘Who knows in derbies’.

“You never do know.”

Moyes celebrates 10 years in charge of Everton tomorrow and a derby win would be the perfect way to mark the occasion.

Victory at Anfield in something the Scot is yet to achieve in his tenure, though, with the Toffees’ last triumph there coming in 1999.

Asked if he would be happy simply not to lose the game, Moyes said: “Over the years, I think it would have been a great result for any team to go and do that, because Anfield has been a hard place to go.

“Liverpool have got really good support and a good team. It has never changed. We will go to Anfield and try to win, and then if you can’t do that, the next thing you want to do is try to get a draw.”

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