REUTERS – Everton manager Roberto Martinez ramped up the pressure on counterpart Brendan Rodgers, insisting that big-spending Liverpool were favourites in the 255th Merseyside derby on Sunday despite being lower in the Premier League table.
Fifth placed Everton have not beaten Liverpool in their past nine league meetings, but have never gone 10 games without a win against their neighbours in the Premier League.
Rodgers, who is under increasing scrutiny because of the indifferent form of his team sitting ninth in the league table, has spent a reported 300 million pounds since arriving at Anfield and Martinez was in no mood to let him forget it.
“We’re showing good form, so maybe people see us as favourites.
“But if you look at the amount of money Liverpool have spent in the last three seasons, maybe you would say they are favourites,” the Spaniard told reporters at his pre-match news conference.
Liverpool have lost just one of their last eight league matches at Goodison Park — a 2-0 reverse in October 2010 — but Martinez said the past was irrelevant, especially in the high-intensity environment of a derby.
“Being favourites or not doesn’t matter in a derby — it’s what happens over the 90 minutes,” he said.
“I know how important derby victories are. It has extra significant meaning.
“Being involved in the derby is a privilege, a unique experience. But you can only enjoy it if you win,” he added.
“The players are very much focused and aware how important the game is.”
The 42-year-old admitted his team would have to be wary of Liverpool, especially the fit-again Daniel Sturridge, who has five goals against them in the league, but said he was more focussed on his own players.
“From our point of view, it’s about us.
“We respect the opposition, we know we will see a team with a lot of experience and huge investment behind it. It doesn’t affect how we go about it.
“I don’t measure success by comparing our squad with other teams. I develop a squad window after window, and I am delighted with what I have,” he said.
Martinez confirmed that all the players who featured in the 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion were fit, but said John Stones and Seamus Coleman would need late fitness checks to see if they could make the squad.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)