Everton V Liverpool at Goodison Park : Match Preview
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Time to show why we are derby favourites - Moyes
David Moyes believes Everton deserve their billing as favourites for Sunday's Merseyside derby and has challenged his side to live up to it.
The Toffees have made a much better start to the season than city rivals Liverpool and go into the match six points ahead and looking to preserve an unbeaten record at Goodison Park this term.
Everton's record in derbies in the decade since Moyes arrived at the club has been one of his biggest disappointments, with the Scot having won only four of 23 meetings.
Last season the Toffees finished ahead of Liverpool in the table but lost all three matches against the Reds, including painfully at Wembley in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Moyes said: "I think we're much closer. I thought we went into the FA Cup semi-final maybe slight favourites because of our form. It didn't work out that way but I think over my time here we've been playing catch-up, which is right, we have to say that honestly.
"I think we possibly go into this game slightly ahead of Liverpool, but we need to show it, we need to prove it. We didn't do it in the game at Wembley so we have to try to do it in this one."
As well as form, Everton can also point to other potential advantages.
Unlike Liverpool, who played in the Europa League on Thursday, they have had a whole week to prepare, while Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will be experiencing his first Merseyside derby, which Moyes admits can take some getting used to.
He said: "The way the Premier League is, the games are so intense, I do think if you can have a free week then it's better, but if you asked me would I like to be in Europe, I'd rather be playing in Europe and going into a derby than not.
"Being in derbies of this magnitude is something that, once you do it, you actually realise what it's like. I was fortunate to play in Old Firm games which sort of set me up for what to expect in this game.
"I think being a manager in it is something slightly different but once you get your first one under your belt it makes you feel a lot easier. Brendan will have experience from Cardiff and Swansea derbies, which are fiercely contested."
Everton will be without suspended playmaker Steven Pienaar and injured midfielder Darron Gibson (thigh) but midfielder Marouane Fellaini (knee) and full-back Tony Hibbert (calf) could make welcome returns.
If Liverpool are to turn their mini-revival into a sustained climb up the Premier League table, it seems certain youth will play a big part.
Rodgers' side claimed their first home win of the season against Reading last weekend with three teenagers in the starting line-up.
Winger Raheem Sterling, 17, has attracted most of the attention, and he demonstrated his vast promise again with the winning goal, but also playing a key role were 18-year-old midfielder Suso and 19-year-old full-back Andre Wisdom.
Rodgers was keen Wisdom should not be overlooked in the praise for Sterling and, since making a goalscoring debut in the Europa League against Young Boys in September, the academy product has been virtually ever-present.
Injuries to Martin Kelly and Jose Enrique gave the teenager his chance in the Premier League, but he has grabbed it with both hands and it would be a surprise if he was not in the team again for the Merseyside derby.
Wisdom praised Liverpool's senior players for helping him make the jump, telling Press Association Sport: "It's been good making the step up. It's very competitive and hard but I think it's going well.
"With the players around me, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, it makes it that little bit easier because they're players with great amounts of experience and they pass it on to the young lads.
"It is difficult but that does really help, and it's important because to play in the Premier League you need more than just quality, you need to be mentally in tune as well.
"And that's hard when you're young because we're used to reserve team football where you might get 50 people turn up to the game, so to go and play in front of 45,000 is a big shock."
The intensity is certain to be turned up another notch at Goodison Park on Sunday, where Everton will be eager to build on their good start to the season with victory over their great rivals.
Wisdom is a Yorkshireman rather than a Liverpudlian but his aunt and uncle are Reds and he has experienced the occasion before, albeit as a spectator.
He said: "I've been to them and I can see the intensity and the fire in everyone's eyes. I've played in many reserve team and youth team derbies, and even in those the level of competitiveness is bigger than most games.
"It would be amazing to win. Everton have had a good start to the season but I think we have as well, even though the results haven't always gone our way. We just need to get the breakthrough, as we did last weekend.
"That's given the club a little lift and hopefully we can move forward and continue to keep our home record good as well as the away one.
"I think we should look forward and hopefully we can kick on by getting a few good results to help us up the table. But we just have to be patient. We're all willing to work hard and we all want the same thing, and that's to win games."
Liverpool will continue to monitor the condition of goalkeeper Jose Reina, who has been nursing a hamstring problem picked up on international duty with Spain.
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