REUTERS - Everton manager Ronald Koeman has asked his players to keep their emotions under control ahead of Monday’s Premier League derby against Liverpool.
Everton have not won in the last 11 top-flight matches against their Merseyside neighbours, losing 4-0 in April in a match in which defender Ramiro Funes Mori was sent off for a reckless tackle on Liverpool forward Divock Origi.
“The derby is all about the fans, we understand that but we need to be calm and prepare for the game in the way we like,” Koeman told a news conference on Friday ahead of his first Merseyside derby.
“It’s about preparing the team. You have an emotional part that you need to control. That’s the most important.”
Everton have only one win in their past 19 league games against Liverpool going back to 2007.
“It’s not good. One out of 19,” Koeman said. “We need to accept how difficult it is, win the game and make the fans happy.”
Everton, who beat Arsenal 2-1 in midweek, are eighth in the league while Liverpool are second, but Koeman has taken heart from the neighbouring team’s recent struggles.
Liverpool beat Middlesbrough 3-0 on Wednesday, but were held 2-2 by West Ham United at Anfield and lost 4-3 at Bournemouth this month.
“They are strong, doing well, but lost their way against Bournemouth and drew with West Ham. If Bournemouth can beat Liverpool, we have a possibility,” Koeman said.
Victory over Arsenal snapped a run of five games without a win for Everton.
”The positive side is that we keep our belief until the end of the (Arsenal) game,“ he added. ”That is part of the character of the players.
“We had a good support from the fans and it makes it difficult for teams to play at Goodison Park.”
Everton trio Gareth Barry, Leighton Baines and Ryan Mason signed new contracts on Friday, but Koeman confirmed Yannick Bolasie’s season was over after the forward underwent knee surgery on Friday.
“Bolasie had surgery on his meniscus but now needs another on his anterior cruciate ligament,” the manager added. “He will be out for a long time.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond