London: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes today's Merseyside derby against Everton offers his players an ideal opportunity to kickstart their stuttering season.
Rodgers' side have struggled in the Premier League so far, with defeats to Manchester City, Aston Villa and last weekend against West Ham, leaving them already seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
The Reds also required a marathon penalty shoot-out to overcome Championship outfit Middlesbrough in the League Cup in midweek and were unconvincing 2-1 winners over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets Razgrad in their opening Champions League game. But Rodgers reckons victory over local rivals Everton would be the perfect springboard to the kind of dominant form that took them to within touching distance of the title last term.
“We know we need to be better, we know we need to improve our performance levels,” Rodgers said. “The derby gives us an opportunity to do that — it provides a platform to go on a good, consistent run. It is a game to relish, full of tension and intensity. It can help spur us on. Everton are a good side, with very good players.”
Liverpool will check on the fitness of England striker Daniel Sturridge ahead of the game, with Rodgers hopeful he will be available. The 25-year-old has been out for three weeks with the thigh strain he picked up on international duty. “We’ll be very happy to have Daniel back and we hope that can be this weekend,” Rodgers added.
“He certainly won’t be match fit. He hasn’t played for a few weeks. But it would be great to have him back because he’s a wonderful player.”
. Liverpool vs Everton: Star Sports 4, 17:00
. Manchester United vs West Ham United: Star Sports 4, 19:30
. Chelsea vs Aston Villa: Star Sports 2, 19:30
. Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur: Star Sports 4, 22:00