Everton may be the underdogs on Merseyside – but that doesn't mean they're scared of the city's big cats.
Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti believes his side can have fear when facing the “lions” of Liverpool but they're not frightened about taking them on.
The Blues will look to end what is fast approaching a 22-year wait for a win across Stanley Park at Anfield on Saturday.
However, Liverpool's den has not been quite a daunting place to visit so far this year.
The Reds are yet to win on home turf in 2021 which has caused their defence of the Premier League title to crumble.
While Everton – who finished 50 points behind their neighbours last season – can go level on points with Jurgen Klopp's side if they win in the tea-time kick-off.
But Ancelotti's men still go into this as the underdogs as he turned to a feline friendly way of describing how they must approach a game they haven't won in two decades.
“I had derbies in Milan, Madrid, everywhere,” said the veteran Italian.
“A derby is a special game.
“It is not a normal game if you think it is a normal game you are wrong. And special games bring more pressure, more fear sometimes.
“But fear is not a bad thing in my opinion because if you don’t have fear then you are going in front of the lion thinking it is a cat.
“But it is not a cat, it is a lion, so fear is important to have. It can help you to be more focused.
“This is the point.
“You can be worried, you can have fear but you need to have motivation, concentration and also in this kind of game brave.
“You have to show your quality. You don’t have to be scared.”
The Toffees will certainly be able to bare their attacking teeth a little more with Dominic Calvert-Lewin set to return to the starting line-up after a spell out with a hamstring injury.
But it remains to be seen how Ancelotti's side approach the game.
It is a chance to go level with their rivals – as well as having a game in hand – but they will also be wary of past nightmares on the red half of Merseyside.
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“To play Liverpool you have to compete with the intensity levels they use in the games and you have to try and find solution in front because you can't only defend against them,” said Ancelotti.
“So you have to try to propose something and we will try to propose something.”
Ancelotti admitted his Everton side could compete with league leaders Manchester City in midweek.
But he does feel like they're closing the gap on Liverpool and now might be the time for the Anfield hoodoo to end and get their first win in the derby since 2010.
“Every derby you want to win,” said Ancelotti.
“Long time since Everton have won a derby. It could be the right time – the right time depends on what we are able to do on pitch only this.
“Extra pressure because of the record? No, for this we don't have pressure because the worst has happened a lot of times in the past.
“I think we are better compared to the past and think we can have more opportunities to get a result.”
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