Everton will be the underdogs when they visit Merseyside rivals Liverpool for a FA Cup third round clash on Friday night, but Toffees manager Sam Allardyce has insisted that his players will be seeking a win and not be settling for a draw.
“We’ve got to try to win it on Friday night. The message is to do more in possession, do better in possession – but don’t lose your defensive qualities,” Allardyce told evertontv.
The last time the sides played, Everton somewhat fortuitously managed to nick a 1-1 draw in December, with Wayne Rooney’s late penalty cancelling out Mohamed Salah’s opener.
Most neutrals and Liverpool fans felt that ‘Big Sam’s’ pragmatic approach to the game had robbed the Merseyside Derby of its sheer entertainment value as it felt more like an attack vs defence training exercise more than anything else. However, considering the kind of offensive firepower Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal, the decision to defend resolutely for large swathes of the tie was an astute one as they came away with a valuable point.
Everton’s unbeaten record since Allardyce took over from Ronald Koeman was shattered by a loss to Bournemouth on December 30 and the Toffees were beaten once again by Manchester United on New Year’s Day to bring back some of the gloom that had enveloped the Blue half of Merseyside in the early stages of the season.
“It’s my job to continue to develop that. That transition is very important. That transition cost us the game against Manchester United,” admitted the veteran manager as he continued, “We’ve got to get better at getting back into a good defensive shape when we lose the ball. Then, when we win it, do better to create and try to score because we’ve got to win the tie to get through to the next round”.
Liverpool are the form team of the two sides, but Everton will take solace from the fact that it was a similar tale prior to their earlier meeting this season.
“Obviously, the team who wins it goes through – there are no points available. We managed to get a very valuable point there last time with a draw but a draw this time is not what we want and it probably won’t be what Jurgen (Klopp) wants, either, because we don’t want a replay with the number of games that we’ve both played this season,” Allardyce stated ahead of the 230th Merseyside Derby clash.
Liverpool have ruled out two of their most in-form stars— Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho— from Friday’s clash but Big Sam shrugged off those reports as he stated, “We’ve played as many games this season as Liverpool have. Our injury problems that have occurred right the way through the season from the start to now, which means we’ve probably had more players missing than anybody else in the Premier League. That shows you the demand on the players there are today”.
“We’ll pick the best side to play Liverpool and go for it,” added the Everton manager.