Football: Everton face defining week

Everton fans are running out of patience with manager Roberto Martinez, who has presided over an inconsistent season in which the Toffees have earned just 17 points out of a possible 51 at home. This is set to be the worst return in the club's histor
Everton fans are running out of patience with manager Roberto Martinez, who has presided over an inconsistent season in which the Toffees have earned just 17 points out of a possible 51 at home. This is set to be the worst return in the club's history.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

With just three wins in their last 15, Everton limp into derby and FA Cup semi-final

LONDON • The 226th Merseyside derby today will be Juergen Klopp's first. Roberto Martinez will be hoping it is not his last.

The under-fire Everton manager knows the next four days could determine his future at Goodison Park. Tonight's trip to Anfield offers the Toffees a chance to restore some pride; Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United provides them with the chance to save their season with a first major trophy in 21 years.

"Football is about results, it's about the results business. I would never be stupid enough to look away from that," Martinez told a press conference yesterday.

"It's a defining week for our season. To be in a semi-final of the FA Cup is an incredible opportunity and we're all very excited, but that's something we will address after Wednesday.

"The derby is more than a game, it's not just three points but an opportunity to make our fans proud. We are facing a team in good form and we're looking forward to playing a big part in this derby."

While Liverpool have won their last three games in all competitions, Everton have just three league wins from their last 15.

  • 17

    Number of points Everton have won at Goodison Park this season.

    With two more games at home remaining, the Merseyside club will end the season with their worst home points total sincethe introduction of three points for a win in 1981.

Last weekend's 1-1 draw with Southampton meant Everton have won just 17 out of 51 points at home this season, and they are guaranteed to finish this season with the worst home record in their history.

Everton rested top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who has not scored in his last four games, and England midfielder Ross Barkley against Southampton.

While the pair could return at Liverpool, along with James McCarthy following the midfielder's ban, Martinez could be without three of his first-choice back four.

Centre-back Phil Jagielka and right-back Seamus Coleman have been ruled out, meaning Callum Connolly, 18, who made his first senior appearance as a substitute against the Saints, could be handed a full debut.

Left-back Leighton Baines will undergo a late test with the midfield duo of Aaron Lennon and Tom Cleverley.

Liverpool boss Klopp made 10 changes in his side's 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Sunday, but vowed not to rest any players today. That victory took them to 51 points - five behind fifth-placed United, who have played a game more, and Klopp believes the Reds can still finish fifth.

"We are a big club with big targets. We need to win big games," he told a press conference yesterday. "We can't always play young players."

The German added that no one in the Anfield dressing room is thinking about the Europa League semi-finals now. Liverpool will travel to Villarreal for the first leg next Thursday.

Despite another league clash against Newcastle scheduled in between, Klopp revealed that the derby has come at the right time.

"In our really busy schedule it's nice for me to have a game where I don't have to think about finding the right words," he told the Liverpool Echo.

Extra motivation, after all, has never been required when these two teams meet.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIVERPOOL V EVERTON
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 2.50am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Everton face defining week'. Print Edition | Subscribe