Everton in confident mood ahead of Merseyside derby against Liverpool

Win on Sunday will ensure Moyes's side could not be overtaken by rivals

The Merseyside derby takes on added significance this weekend as Everton head to Anfield seeking to finish above bitter rivals Liverpool for successive seasons in the top flight for the first time since 1937.

A win on Sunday would ensure David Moyes's side could not be overtaken by Liverpool, although victory in itself would be an achievement as they have not come back from the red side of town with three points for 14 years.

After last season's seventh to Liverpool's eighth, Everton would be guaranteed at least a sixth-placed finish with a win.

Unfortunately for them, that would still see them miss out on a place in Europe, though they remain with an outside chance of snatching fifth, and entry to the Europa League, and possibly even a top four champions League berth.

"We'll go there full of the confidence that we've got this year," Everton midfielder Leon Osman told the Liverpool Echo.

"We're five points above them at the minute and a win would certainly be great for us. But we're still on the coat-tails of the teams above us and we're trying to win for that reason as well."

While the European battle is a major focus, for many Everton fans the chance for the right to crow about back-to-back higher finishes is an even tastier prospect.

The fact it has taken so long, despite Everton winning the league five times in the period, points to their inconsistency, illustrated perfectly when they followed their 1970 championship-winning season by finishing 14th.

The few years when the clubs did not play in the same division are not counted in the run but there is still a long period where Liverpool can claim to have had the upper hand.

After being the dominant force in the English game in the late 1970s and 1980s, Liverpool briefly ceded power to their neighbours.

Yet even though Everton won the league in 1985 and '87 - with Liverpool second both times - Liverpool took the honours in between, rubbing it in by completing the 1986 double by beating league runners-up Everton in the FA Cup final.

But where Liverpool have managed back-to-back titles several times over the decades, Everton have never strung two together in the nine times they have been English champions.

It is perhaps therefore telling that they are on the cusp of ending this 76-year wait under a manager whose name is uttered in the same sentence as consistency as much as gritty and sometimes boring.

Moyes has been in the Goodison Park hot seat since 2002, making him the third-longest serving in the Premier League behind Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.

The Scot, whose contract expires this summer, has won admirers for building a competitive team on a limited budget and by the end of this season will have led Everton to seven successive top-half finishes and nine in total.

Critics point to a lack of silverware as a shortcoming in this period of stability, with defeat in the 2009 FA Cup final the closest they have home to a trophy, and a lack of thrills.

While they have enjoyed being something of a bogey team for the bigger teams, with a 4-4 and 3-3 draws against Manchester United and two league victories over them in the past four seasons, some moments on the big stage have been less inspired.

In the FA Cup final against Chelsea four years ago, they took an exciting first-minute lead before shutting up shop and losing 2-1, while in the semi-final against Manchester United they went through on penalties after a drab 0-0 draw then lost to Liverpool in the semis last year.

The likes of Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar have injected class into the team but there remains an overriding sense Everton are not fulfilling their promise when it counts - this year's 3-0 home FA Cup quarter-final defeat by Wigan Athletic a case in point.

They make the short trip to Anfield at their defensive best, however, having kept five clean sheets in seven games, which is ideal form in which to face a Liverpool who thumped Newcastle United 6-0 last weekend.

Liverpool, without their top scorer Luis Suarez who is serving a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, showed they can find goals from elsewhere in his absence and will be motivated to try to close the gap on Everton.

"We still have a chance of catching Everton and that's our target," Lucas, whose side are seventh with 54 points to Everton's 59 with three games to play, said in the Echo.

"We know we have to win if we want to finish a position higher than we are now.

Reuters

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own