David Moyes defends team selection for Merseyside derby


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The Independent Football

Everton boss David Moyes has no regrets over his controversial team selection for the Merseyside derby loss to Liverpool.

The Toffees were beaten 3-0 at Anfield on Tuesday after Moyes, with an eye on tomorrow's FA Cup quarter-final against Sunderland, made six changes to the side which beat Tottenham last week.

Victory over the Black Cats, and the resulting semi-final trip to Wembley, might vindicate Moyes' decision, but that has not stopped him attracting some criticism from fans who find losing to the neighbours difficult to stomach.

Moyes, who celebrated the 10th anniversary of his appointment this week, said: "It has been an important week. It was always going to be tough and that has proved to be the case.

"We have got a lot of players here and a good squad when they are fit.

"We chose to use them and give a few of them a game. We want them all to be fit and ready for the run-in, and obviously for the game tomorrow."

When asked if he had any regrets, Moyes said: "None whatsoever."

The Liverpool loss halted Everton's momentum after a nine-game unbeaten run.

But Moyes said: "We have now moved on and are looking forward to the Sunderland game. It is a big game for us.

"We didn't win in midweek but our performances prior to that were good and results were good.

"We will keep doing what we are doing."

History is on Everton's side as Sunderland have a poor record against the Merseysiders.

Moyes may have seen another season pass without a win at Anfield on Tuesday but, in contrast, Sunderland have not beaten his team at Goodison Park since he took charge.

Everton have also won their last four home games against the Wearsiders, scoring 14 goals in the process.

Yet Moyes claims that counts for little as Sunderland - above ninth-placed Everton on goal difference in the Premier League - are now a different proposition under Martin O'Neill.

Moyes said: "You don't think about that [records] - you take the game.

"I think there are very few managers who think that way. You might look at it just as an aside but it is of no importance.

"We have got to try to beat a Sunderland team who are a team very much in form.

"Martin O'Neill has done an unbelievable job, which is probably what we would expect.

"It is a tough tie for us but I am sure he knows it is a tough tie for them.

"We are at Goodison. We wouldn't have liked to go to the Stadium of Light and I am sure they will feel the same about coming to Goodison."

The tie is Everton's fourth in succession at home this season after defeats of Tamworth, Fulham and Blackpool in the previous rounds.

With the game having been sold out for the past fortnight, Moyes is hoping to make the luck of the draw count once again.

He said: "You need a bit of luck in everything you do in football, and you need a bit of luck in the games.

"We need everybody to play their part - the support and the players.

"It could be a tight game. Sunderland have done really well away from home, except for one game recently at West Brom."

Moyes is one of the most highly regarded managers in the Premier League but has no silverware to show for his decade in charge.

With the league title seemingly out of reach for a club of Everton's resources, the FA Cup offers a more realistic chance of a trophy.

Moyes has fond memories of his side's run to the final three years ago and especially their quarter-final comeback against Middlesbrough.

He said: "It is very hard to win the Premier League at this time, so the FA Cup gives us an opportunity.

"We have to try to beat Sunderland and move on.

"I think the cup starts to come alive when you get to these stages.

"I think we remember the Middlesbrough game really well and hopefully we will remember this game after it."

Moyes will make at least one more change as Steven Pienaar is cup-tied, but the likes of Leon Osman, Nikica Jelavic, John Heitinga, Phil Neville and Royston Drenthe - on the bench at Liverpool - will be in contention.