Houllier sounds derby rallying cry

 

Gerard Houllier has issued a defiant "let's go for it" call to Liverpool as they brace themselves for a Merseyside showdown with Everton.

The Goodison Park clash on Easter Saturday will virtually decide who retains a chance of clinching a Champions League berth next season in the most important derby battle for years.

Liverpool find themselves considered the underdogs going into the game a point and one place behind Everton who have lost only once at home in the Premiership all season

But Houllier insists Liverpool have the bottle for the crunch clash, and he says: "It's not a question of nerve now, it's a question of winning the games.

"The best way to prepare for a derby is to win, so let's go for it."

Liverpool do not expect to have defender Stephane Henchoz fit after his calf operation but believe that both Danny Murphy and El-Hadji Diouf will have recovered from neck and shin injuries that kept them out of Saturday's 2-0 win over Fulham.

Liverpool's stars accept that it's a winner takes all collision and Houllier says: "There is competition for the top spot between Manchester United and Arsenal, and then for the rest of the Champions League spots between Newcastle, Chelsea, Everton and ourselves.

"It makes the Premiership extremely exciting this season. It sets it up very nicely for the derby, for both teams.

"The derby is vital for a Champions League spot, it's an exciting game and an exciting challenge."

Vladimir Smicer, architect of the Fulham win and now contesting with Diouf to stay in the side at Goodison, spells out that challenge.

He said: "Only the winner will have a realistic chance of Champions League football next season.

"Maybe it will work in our favour that we are away. The stadium will be full of Evertonians expecting their team to get at us, so if we can be solid and put on a good display it could go our way."

PA