Everton manager Roberto Martinez claims Liverpool’s significant recent outlay in the transfer market means the pressure is all on the visitors ahead of the first Merseyside derby of the season on Sunday.
Having received major fees for the sales of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Raheem Sterling to Manchester City in the last two years, Brendan Rodgers has spent significant sums in an attempt to replace those prized assets.
Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana all cost £20million or more apiece, with Liverpool’s spending since the arrival of Rodgers from Swansea in 2012 estimated to be close to £300m.
And while Everton are at home and in better form than their local rivals, with three wins from their last four matches in all competitions, their Spanish manager has sought to place the burden of expectation squarely on the away team.
“If you’re looking at … the amount of money that Liverpool have spent in the last three seasons, clearly they need to be the favourites,” Martinez told a pre-match conference on Friday.
Liverpool’s underwhelming 1-1 draw at home to Sion in the Europa League on Thursday has done nothing to ease the scrutiny on Rodgers, who has led Liverpool to three wins, two draws and two defeats from the first seven matches of the league season.
Everton are just one point better off than their fierce foes in the Premier League table and Martinez is unsurprised to see his counterpart from across the city finding his future being questioned.
“The pressure is the nature of the game,” he said.
“In the league now we’ve created so many high expectations in every project. It’s something that is normal. It goes with the nature of not winning games.”
Nevertheless, the former Wigan Athletic manager is not counting on possible uncertainty in the opposition camp handing his team an advantage as they seek to record their first derby victory since October 2010.
“It’s about how good we can be,” Martinez added.
“How well we can start the game. How consistent we can be throughout the 90 minutes. And how much we can use playing at home (to) our advantage.”
Defenders John Stones and Seamus Coleman could return to action from knee and hamstring injuries respectively, with Martinez to make a decision on the duo as late as Sunday.
“They are progressing well, in the next two sessions we’ll get a clear idea,” he said of their potential availability.
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you one way or another. They have progressed well since the West Brom game and clearly we’ll make a decision as late as we can. We’re going to leave it probably until the day of the game.”