Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists his side have always tried to play football in Merseyside derbies.
The Reds boss was in no mood to discuss in depth what the 239th meeting between two clubs separated by the width of Stanley Park might have in store.
However, his assertion about playing football could be interpreted as a dig at their city rivals, especially after last year’s encounter which began the unravelling of Liverpool’s Premier League title defence.
Virgil Van Dijk’s season was ended by a reckless Jordan Pickford challenge and Thiago Alcantara was sidelined for almost three months after Richarlison was red-carded for a late lunge on the midfielder.
That was the ninth Everton player sent off in 19 league meetings at Goodison Park and they have had four players dismissed since Liverpool’s last red card in a derby back in 2010.
“It is a shame that I have to mention that but I think we were the fairest team in England and most of the time the fairest team in Europe in the last five years,” said Klopp when asked whether his players had to exercise a degree of control.
“It is obviously not a prize somebody wants to win, but it is still the case.
“If you play pressing, high press, counter-press, the plan is to win the ball and to win the ball you have to touch the ball, that’s how it is because you want to keep playing after that. You don’t want to create a free-kick or give a foul away.
“That is why you want to win the ball in the right way and you want to play it from there.
“In the past, before I arrived here, you could watch a highlight reel and if you wanted to see some things you wouldn’t want to see in football it would be easy to find one on Liverpool’s side and on Everton’s side.
“Since I am here we always try to play a football game.”
Klopp will face former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez as Everton boss for the first time, having previously done so when the Spaniard was in charge at Newcastle.
He was not surprised to see the mastermind of the club’s 2005 Champions League final triumph turn up in the dugout at Goodison.
“There are other derbies in the world. There is some special thing in this derby than other derbies but I don’t know exactly why that is like that,” he added.
“But was I surprised? I can’t remember but I am for sure not surprised.”
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