The Blues cross Stanley Park a month after their last visit in the Premier League ended in a 5-2 thrashing that cost Marco Silva his job.
It means Everton’s wait for a win at Anfield has now extended into a 21st year and they face a Reds side that has just marked 12 months without defeat in the Premier League and seemingly on course for a first league title in 30 years.
That focus on the league may mean boss Jurgen Klopp rests a number of his key stars after the hectic Christmas schedule. But whatever team the German picks, Ancelotti knows his side need to be at their best.
“Every derby is a special game. I know how different this game is. Of course Liverpool is the favourite but in derby you never know what is going on. We need to have confidence to move on from this competition that everyone knows is important. The last time I played this competition I won so it can be a good luck for us.”
When asked what it takes to beat Liverpool, Ancelotti said:
“To score more goals. Jurgen is my friend. I have a good relationship with him. I had the luck to beat him last season and then they won the competition. In Napoli it was the same but we were able to do great performance. If we want to beat Liverpool we have to do a great performance - normal performance everyone knows is not enough. Everything has to be perfect - no mistakes, work hard, sacrifice, intensity. If we want to beat them the game has to be complete.
“Everyone knows how Liverpool plays, it’s a fantastic team. Fantastic counter-attack, in transition - you have to do a perfect game. You cannot defend 90 minutes and we do not want to defend 90 minutes. We want to have the possibility to play our football.”
Ancelotti has faced a hectic schedule since taking charge at Goodison Park, with Sunday’s clash his fourth match in just two weeks at the helm, not including the watching brief he had against Arsenal.
After the highs of wins over Burnley and Newcastle, Everton were brought back down to earth with defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day. Ancelotti is not too downhearted though and has praised the squad for their efforts in adapting to his style of play.
“I think that I found a fantastic spirit in the team. I know that in this moment the players need to adapt. I ask them a lot of things, maybe for some players it’s new things. I have to be patient and the players have to adapt to the new things that I put in every game. It’s a little adaptation, I understand this. The fact that they try to do something new on the pitch for me is important. I don’t want to change a lot because I don’t want to put confusion in their head.”
Ancelotti also confirmed that Bernard will continue to be assessed after he was forced to withdraw from the team to play City with an injury suffered in the warm-up. Fabian Delph is also doubtful after picking up a knee injury. There was better news on Morgan Schneiderlin, who is available again after a calf problem.
Despite those knocks Ancelotti feels his side were fortunate not to pick up many more injuries during the festive period, which saw Everton play two games in 48 hours.
“The schedule is so intensive. To play every two days is more difficult but we were unlucky because we played on the 26th and 28th and we didn’t have a problem. Usually when a new manager (arrives) it’s usual to say the physical condition is not good. I found it really good, I have no complaints. There are some injuries that affect us, Gomes and Gbmain that could help us to be better but in general the physical condition is really good.”
Inevitably, Ancelotti was asked about potential transfers with the January window now open.
The 60-year-old refused to be drawn on specific rumours though, insisting that his focus for now remains Sunday’s game.
“I would like to speak about the game and the derby, the fantastic challenge that we have and opportunity that we have because we are going to play against the best team in this moment. They are world champions, so congratulations to them. I don’t want to lose time talking about the transfer market because I want to use all my energy explaining to the players how I want us to play.
I want to check all the players we have here (first). We don’t have a lot of time but I have an idea. After that if there is any possibility the club is happy to try to improve the squad”