Sam Allardyce says his Everton side will have to go about nullifying Liverpool’s attacking option if they are to get anything from Saturday’s Merseyside Derby.
The Everton boss recognised the threat that Jurgen Klopp’s side possess even if the German boss is to make a number of changes in rotation.
Speaking to the media at Finch Farm, Allardyce said: “Anything can happen in this derby but nothing has happened too positively in terms of any victories. We were very pleased we got a draw at Anfield and really the approach has to be about nullifying their attacking options because that is their exceptional strength.
‘We have to limit their chances, not just (Mohamed) Salah, but all across the front three and the midfield. We have to shut that off."
The Blues boss stated: “If we are to win, that’s where we have to succeed first.”
His sides set-up will be vital to their success and it’s clear there will be changes from Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
The Blues started with Dominic Calvert-Lewin playing a supporting role to Cenk Tosun instead of playing alongside him whilst Allardyce also opted to start Wayne Rooney in a midfield two alongside the much-maligned Morgan Schneiderlin.
Allardyce stated: “We tried to attack Manchester City and before we knew it we were two-nil down. I don’t think what system we played against City with the way they started and the way they played, I don’t think we would have coped with it.
“They were too good for us and we have to accept that. They are 16 points clear in the Premier League.”
Doubters? What doubters?
Allardyce also launched a bizarre response after being quizzed about having detractors within the fanbase.
His side were booed off at half-time during Saturday’s defeat to City and again at full-time. The 63-year-old’s decision to substitute Rooney was also met with jeers from the home support.
There is also much speculation that points to him leaving the club before the summer, allowing a new manager - namely current Shakhtar Donetsk boss Paulo Fonseca - to take over the reigns.
Allardyce answered: “Where are the doubters? Have you been looking at Twitter again? Facebook for 10? Your lives are really run by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram far too much.
“You’re professional journalists, you shouldn’t listen to speculating unprofessionals, which is what you’re doing.
“So be real and say there are a few that are complaining. A few speculating that my reign at the end of the season is going to not be here on many fronts on radio, TV, the papers and of course on social media.”
He continued: “So you create the stir but for me that’s only a small minority. That’s what you live with, I understand it.
“Until Farhad (Moshiri) rings me up and says ‘Sam we don’t want you anymore’ then I know I’m not wanted anymore. When everybody else says I’m not wanted or I’m going to be changed, then I don’t listen to them.”
Idrissa Gana Gueye is available for selection for after recovering from a hamstring injury. The Senegalese midfielder underwent late fitness tests to be available for last weekend’s defeat but wasn’t used.
Ashley Williams returns from suspension after serving a three-match ban for his red card against Burnley.
However, on the other side of Stanley Park, this derby clash falls between the Reds’ Champions League first and second-leg ties against Manchester City.
Klopp is almost certain to name a changed team with one eye towards Tuesday’s return leg against the Citizens but Allardyce isn’t fully banking on it.
“It’s an advantage we could possibly take. It’s a good time to play them, in between two Champions League games, there’s no doubt about that,” Allardyce said.
“What changes Jurgen makes, he has a very strong squad and they’ve not let him down all season so if he changes the team it’ll be strong, it’ll be fresh."
"It’ll be interesting to see the selection," Allardyce concluded.