Rodgers wants ref to play it cool

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has seen plenty of "firecracker" Merseyside derbies over the years - and wants a strong performance from the referee at Goodison Park.

A straight red ???

Clashes between the Reds and their local rivals Everton have often been feisty affairs in recent times, with several red cards being produced.

Rodgers has expressed his unhappiness this season with the way his team have been treated by officials, and with that and the likely intensity of Sunday's Barclays Premier League encounter in mind, the manager is keen to see that referee Andre Marriner ensures "everything is in control" on the day.

Speaking ahead of what will be his first Merseyside derby as a player or boss, Rodgers said: "I have seen it over the years - the real firecrackers of games, full of intensity and passion, which they should be because that is what derbies are about.

"But it is also important to stay calm, and I think the referee has a big part to play in it as well because I have also seen over the games some of the challenges. I think the history of this game shows there have been a lot of red cards.

"I would hope this weekend that we might get a decision that goes our way for once."

He added: "The Merseyside derby is a terrific game full of passion and quality, and I just hope the referee in Andre can really ensure that everything is in control and that the football is what is talked about."

Everton are currently fourth in the table after making an impressive start to the season and there has been talk about their chances of sustaining their form for the rest of the campaign to secure a Champions League berth.

The Toffees are six points ahead of 12th-placed Liverpool, who are still finding their feet under their new manager following Rodgers' appointment over the summer.

The Reds head into Sunday's game with some momentum, though, having beaten Reading last Saturday 1-0 and then Anzhi Makhachkala by the same score in the Europa League last night.

Those results made it three consecutive clean sheets including the 0-0 league draw with Stoke, and Rodgers has emphasised that his team are full of confidence right now.

"Everton have started well and there is obviously talk of them being in the top four," Rodgers said.

"They obviously feel they have the quality and experience to go and do that.

"For us, it is really about taking it game by game and looking to improve, and that is certainly what we are doing at the moment.

"The players have a real strong mentality at the moment. We have three clean sheets in the last three games, we have got some victories and the confidence is really high."

Rodgers will continue to monitor the condition of goalkeeper Jose Reina ahead of Sunday's contest.

Reina has been nursing a hamstring problem picked up on international duty with Spain and missed the Reading and Anzhi matches, but has been back in training at the Reds' Melwood complex.

Meanwhile, Rodgers says all his players will on Sunday once again be warming up sporting the T-shirts endorsing the 'Kick It Out' anti-racism campaign.

As a means of showing their dissatisfaction at the amount being done to address racism in football, a number of players at other clubs refused to wear the T-shirts last weekend.

Asked if all his players would have them on again, Rodgers said: "Yes.

"We obviously had our game with that (at home against Reading), and now it is Everton's game this weekend. But we will support that."



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