LIVERPOOL, May 2: Everton manager Roberto Martinez has promised Liverpool that his team won’t surrender when they meet title favourites Manchester City at Goodison Park on Saturday. (Read: English Premier League Preview and Fixtures)
Manchester City, currently three points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, know that maximum points from their final three games will see them crowned English Premier League champions following the Reds’ unexpected defeat against Chelsea last weekend.
Liverpool therefore need a favour from Everton, Aston Villa or West Ham — City’s last three opponents — if they are to rescue their title dream with wins of their own against Crystal Palace and Newcastle.
Many Everton supporters would hate the idea that they may be the ones to help their despised Merseyside neighbours towards a first league title in 24 years by beating third placed City, but Martinez is adamant that’s what they will be trying to do.
“I have always felt the relationship between the clubs in the city over many, many years has had incredible chapters and this will be another fascinating chapter,” Martinez said.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt of the integrity of our football club towards the league and towards the competition.
“We are a football club and a team that wants to win every single game we go into and we are looking at ourselves.
“They are precious points for us, so we can’t afford not to give everything we have got for every point we have got left.
“Helping other teams is not the way we do our work. We are just focusing on trying to win for ourselves and have real high standards in every game we go into.”
– outstanding season –
Everton’s own incentive may have been slightly dimmed now that they look unlikely to qualify for the Champions League, with defeat in two of their last three matches allowing Arsenal to open up a four-point gap in fourth place.
But Martinez is still determined to end what has been an outstanding season at Goodison Park on a high with victory over City.
“It’s going to be real test and it’s one of those glamorous games you keep in your memory for ever,” he added.
“I think we have been outstanding in our last few fixtures at home when you are looking at very similar teams like Arsenal and Manchester United and we need to carry on at that sort of level.
“For us it’s really important to make it a proper send-off for our fans at home and make it a performance to remember.”
Recent history favours Everton with the Merseyside club beating City at home in each of the past four seasons.
But City will be determined not to let another opportunity to take the title slip through their hands after being handed back the initiative to finish top by Chelsea’s win at Anfield.
“We are back with a big chance of being champions again. We are not depending on other teams. It only depends on us, and that has changed a lot,” said midfielder Fernandinho.
“It gives you energy because mentality is 70 per cent of your body, and a result like that changes everything — your mind, your motivation.
“It’s a massive game for both teams. We are trying to keep fighting for the title and need to play to win the game.
“We have to play with passion to win every game, and this next one is no different.
“That is difficult but we will try to do it. We have waited a long time for this moment, and the positivity of the group is now very high.”
Everton are likely to have England international defender Phil Jagielka back after an 11-game injury absence, but on-loan City midfielder Gareth Barry is unable to face his parent club.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini may recall Spain midfielder David Silva if he is able to play through the pain of an on-going ankle problem.