Everton manager Sean Dyche has given his thoughts on the Merseyside Derby that will be kicking off at 12:30 GMT on Saturday. The Blues arrive at Anfield with the positive result from the Bournemouth match and three wins out of the past four games. They also arrive knowing that they have only one win this century at Anfield, that being the 2-0 win during the lockdown in 2021.
The team news was mostly unchanged as Dyche reported that Dele Alli, Andre Gomes and Seamus Coleman will all be unavailable for the game as they continue to nurse long-term fitness issues. He did comment that Coleman is back on the grass and is closer to a return. Midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is set to be available again having been sidelined just before kick-off for the win at home to Bournemouth.
The importance of the Merseyside Derby:
“When it’s something your life is around, it’s something different. I am still relatively new to Everton and I am learning all the time. It means so much to the people. It’s a big game but it’s more about our focus to get through that and concentrate on our performance because generally I think they’ve been strong but we are taking on a top side.
“[Liverpool’s] record is very strong, they’re a very good outfit, we know that. Our record needs changing there, we know that. It’s been a long time with not many wins. But it’s a tough place to go and I don’t think we’ll be listening to the noise around it, we’re trying not to anyway, but there is a lot of noise, rightly so.”
On a changed approach to preparations:
“It sometimes does, but it shouldn’t. You want that edge - but you want that from any game. It feels like there is that energy from the off.
“My main thing now is staying focused. I don’t want us to get carried away (with the occasion). It’s not that easy with all the noise and all the build-up, but players are in a good place at the moment, and we want that to continue.”
On lead striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s continued fitness improvements and his impact:
“We know he is an effective player, we know he’s getting back to full fitness and sharpness, that’s very obvious by the way he is playing and his stats support that as well, his physical stats. Really I think it’s just keeping him out on the pitch as much as possible until he’s totally free-flowing because I think he’s a very, very good player.”
Young midfielder James Garner continues to be heralded for his work this season and his growing impact for the team:
“When I got here he’d been injured. I knew of him from the season before at Nottingham Forest, I went there quite a bit that season while I was having a rest and he was performing there. His adaptability for a young player is very pleasing but I’ve always seen him mainly in a central role but I do like the flexibility of him.
“He’s a player that can use that wisely and he does. He’s been very open to use it for us and has worked very hard in the positions and he’s growing into what he is and that’s a very good footballer in my opinion.”
With all of the swirling reports about the club’s Financial Fair Play probe and a possible points deduction, Dyche was pushed to comment but did not take the bait and provided an arm’s length response:
“It’s more a case of the ongoing process and we’re part of the process and I’ve stepped into the middle of it. So it’s certainly not something that involves me as manager but it sort of distantly does from the fact that I am manager.
“So I’ll wait and see what the outcome is and when the timelines are. At the minute I don’t know any more than that.”
Check out the complete news conference below.