David Moyes

Moyes tells Everton to aim high at Anfield

Everton meet Liverpool at Anfield hoping to topple the Reds for the first time in 14 years and enhance their hopes of qualifying for Europe


Everton manager David Moyes has insisted winning today's Merseyside derby away to Liverpool is about far more than personal pride.

The Scot has been in charge at Goodison Park for 11 years but has still to oversee an away win at nearby Anfield, where Liverpool haven't lost to their local rivals since 1999.

Everton still have an outside hope of a Champions League place, with Moyes' men trailing Tottenham Hotspur by three points having played a game more than the current occupiers of fifth spot.

But the Europa League is well within Everton's sights and the effect of a victory today on the club as a whole is what matters most to Moyes.

"For Everton - for the team and the supporters - it will mean an awful lot, but personally, it is not an important thing really. I'm looking forward to trying to get a result for the supporters.

"The higher up you finish you get more money, but finishing in Europe is attractive for most players," Moyes added. "The focus is to get one of those spots. It will be tough but we will do whatever we can."

Victory for Everton would ensure they finish above the Reds for the second successive season - something that hasn't happened since 1937 - but Moyes, much praised for managing Everton on a relatively tight budget yet frustrated by his failure to bring a trophy to Goodison, said that was of minor concern.

"You want to finish above every team - I wanted to finish above Manchester United and Manchester City this season," Moyes said.

"Do I want to finish above Liverpool? Of course I do. But it can't be our sole objective."

Despite the 14-year gap since Everton's last win at Anfield, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers does not believe they will get much benefit from looking at previous results against the Toffees.

"I never read too much into that sort of stuff," he said. "When we went to Wigan this year, the team hadn't won there for a number of years but we played very well and won the game."

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, has called on his already crowned Premier League champions to play with freedom for the remainder of the season.

United welcome top-four chasing Chelsea to Old Trafford today and Ferguson wants his side to impress even if they do have their 20th English league title secured.

A draw at Arsenal last week ended United's hopes of overhauling Chelsea's record Premier League points tally of 95, but Ferguson remains focused. "It is time for us to play with a good enthusiasm, relax and enjoy ourselves," he said. "That is what I want to see and hopefully we can have a good end to the season."

Rafael Benitez's success in guiding Chelsea towards a successful climax to a frustrating season - an achievement that has been marked with the April manager of the month award - has been overshadowed by the growing speculation Jose Mourinho is poised to return to Stamford Bridge.

Benitez's departure from his post as interim manager has never been in doubt, but it is in keeping with his turbulent reign that recognition of his achievements in west London comes when focus is fixed elsewhere.

Should Mourinho leave Real Madrid and succeed Benitez, there is a growing possibility he will take over a team on the rise.

The midweek victory over Basel secured Chelsea's place in the Europa League final when they will start as firm favourites to beat Benfica in Amsterdam. And a return of 10 points from a possible 12 means they are on course to finish third in the Premiership and claim a place in the Champions League group stage.

Defeat at Old Trafford, however, could change the balance of that three-way battle with London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham for the two remaining places in the top four.

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres said: "I've been scoring goals, helping the team to win matches and now we're really looking forward to the [Europa League] final. We need to focus on that game now but also on the Premier League because we need to finish in the top four to make sure we are playing in the Champions League next season."

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: More at stake than just a Derby