Kenny Dalglish seeks Merseyside derby reaction to slump

 

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Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes the Merseyside derby could be just what his side need to shake themselves from their current run. 

Defeat at Sunderland at the weekend was the first time since 2003 the Reds had lost three successive league matches.

Performances have varied wildly from the dominant display against Arsenal on their last appearance at Anfield to the disappointing show at the Stadium of Light.

But Dalglish knows there is nothing like a derby, with the added atmosphere of being played under floodlights, to give people the necessary lift.

"It is a massive game, like any derby is for any club involved in one," said the Scot.

"We know how much enjoyment the people get out of winning the game but the players get a lot out of enjoyment out of it also.

"The winners get to enjoy it. You get the bragging rights for the city but both clubs come straight out of that into two FA Cup quarter-final ties so you don't get much time to rest on your laurels - and you wouldn't want to either."

Recent results have virtually ended Liverpool's chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League but now, of more concern, is the pressure coming from below.

Defeat to Everton would see their near-neighbours overtake them and after their poor start to the campaign that would be seen as a major achievement across the other side of Stanley Park.

Dalglish accepts their current run is not acceptable at a club of Liverpool's stature, although he maintains with more good fortune things would have been better.

"It depends what teams you're playing but certainly it's not a record you expect from Liverpool," added the Reds boss, who has never lost successive league matches at Anfield in either of his spells in charge.

"We don't want to get into the habit of losing games but in between the (three) losses we've had a Carling Cup victory.

"I think in both our last defeats we deserved more than what we got.

"They were different performances but we were playing different teams in different conditions.

"We more than matched Sunderland's attributes and had 56% possession and they had maybe three shots on target and one (goal) out of three isn't bad - it is better than what we have done.

"The performances are all well and good and very important and if you continue to play well you are going to continue to win games but you always need a bit of luck."

Everton make the short trip to Anfield looking for their first league win there since 1999 but Dalglish does not think either side will need additional motivation.

And he expects only a fully-committed affair on the pitch despite 20 players being sent off in the past 39 league meetings with 11 coming in the past 14 games.

"The derbies are perhaps more frantic and hectic but they will still be competitive," he said.

"It will always be competitive but it is not malicious - and if it is not competitive you have a problem.

"You cannot take away the competitive spirit of a derby match. If you do that you may as well close the doors and not let anyone in.

"It is a great game to play in, there is a fantastic atmosphere, and the city should be very proud it has two fantastic clubs.

"Overall I think both the clubs have done more good than harm for the city."

PA

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