Everton v Liverpool: Roberto Martinez confident Everton can cope with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Everton v Liverpool: Roberto Martinez confident Everton can cope with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge

The sides meet in the early kick-off on Saturday

Everton boss Roberto Martinez is confident his team can deal with Liverpool's fearsome forward pairing.

Strike duo Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge head into this weekend's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park having scored 18 goals between them in all competitions.

Martinez is well aware of the danger they pose but is concerned mainly about getting his own side's approach right rather than formulating a specific plan to nullify them.

The Spaniard said: "They have had a very good start to the season, they are very influential in their team.

"From that partnership up front, they have got a real goalscoring threat.

"You do see why Liverpool have been successful this season, it is not an accident. I do feel they are a strong side.

"But as a team, you are always used to coping with threats of the opposition.

"Not long ago we had a very good team full of individuals here - Spurs - and we dealt with them really well.

"It is more about what we can do and how we can perform in the derby rather than being worried about what the opposition can bring."

Everton's current strength appears to be their defence, which has not conceded in their last three outings.

On the downside they have not scored in their last two matches either - goalless draws against Tottenham and Crystal Palace - but Martinez is not overly concerned about that.

He said: "We haven't been scoring goals due to certain aspects that we need to work on but the way we have been getting in the final third has been fantastic. That is where the excitement comes.

"We are very close to getting into a position where we can control games and score goals at the end of it.

"We see it as a normal process we need to get through rather than something that is lacking."

Both Merseyside clubs have started the season well with the Reds just two points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal after 11 games and Everton three points further back.

Because of that Martinez knows there is more than local bragging rights at stake in the 221st clash between the neighbouring clubs, particularly when the weekend's other fixtures are taken into account.

Elsewhere Arsenal host third-placed Southampton and Manchester City, eighth, taken on Spurs, seventh.

Martinez said: "This could be a very significant game. There are other clashes between teams in the top seven and that makes it a very interesting weekend.

"It makes it an opportunity we want to take. We want to get away from the feeling of just fighting for the Merseyside rights.

"It goes a little bit further than that and making sure it is a strong start to the season."

Martinez will be experiencing the intensity of the derby for the first time and, because of the emotion surrounding the fixture, he does not anticipate having difficulty motivating his players.

Indeed, having had little time to work with his squad this week due to internationals, he sees holding players back as one of his tasks.

He said: "It is difficult in international week to have a normal week preparing for a big game but I think we are used to it. It is not a one-off situation.

"But maybe it is easier to prepare for a derby after the international break than any other game because the players come back fully focused.

"Even when on international duty they start thinking about the game. They know the derby is around the corner.

"I have realised after five months at the club how much this fixture means to the fans. I am well aware.

"But the important aspect from our point of view is to make sure we are ourselves in the game - we don't get affected by the occasion, we don't play the derby, we play the game and we realise that the three points are important enough to be concentrating on, and that will look after the whole occasion by itself."

PA

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