Brendan Rodgers makes his first Merseyside derby appearance as Liverpool manager tomorrow, and he's feeling confident and prepared for what's been one of the more explosive fixtures on the Premier League calender.
"In Liverpool [the derby] means everything. To the people of this city, football is a way of life. For many, many other cities it is a sport or a pastime. At Liverpool, the history and what has been achieved in the past gives us real motivation going forward.
"I've seen the Merseyside derby over the years and there have been some real firecrackers of games. There's a lot of passion and intensity in the games, which there should be because that's what derbies are about."
With a decent amount of optimism for both sets of supporters heading into tomorrow's derby--Everton have started wonderfully and sit alone in fourth, Liverpool have won four of their last six in all competitions--there's bound to be plenty of emotion involved, and in derbies past that's proven to provide an atmosphere that's explosive and, at times, a little bit frightening.
There's an argument to be made that the Manchester United match is more volatile and important for Liverpool, and recent history provides credible evidence for that claim. But if the Merseyside derby's been lacking in impact in the table, it certainly hasn't in tone, as nearly every derby fixture in the past few seasons has been marked by something memorable, and not always for the most honorable reasons.
It could understandably be a little intimidating for a new manager to walk into, and while Brendan Rodgers acknowledges the fixture's importance both clubs and their supporters, he's also aware that right now Liverpool need points as much as anything else. A slow start means they're playing catch up not only on Everton but the top half of the table, and while David Moyes' squad are on a good run, form goes out the window and etc. etc.
The formula's the same as always in a big match--survive the spells of chaos both on the score sheet and with personnel, and work to control a match that will, at times, be nearly uncontrollable. If they can do that while continuing the improvement we've witnessed, there's no reason to believe that Liverpool can't come away with a result.