‘This time it’s different’ – Benitez looks ahead to ‘massive’ Liverpool game

Rafael Benitez has admitted that Everton’s midweek Merseyside derby versus Liverpool is “different” to when he faced his former club while at Newcastle and Chelsea.

The Spaniard comes up against Liverpool for the first time as Everton boss on Wednesday night.

He previously managed the Reds and he won the Champions League with them in 2005.

Big Midweek: Man United v Arsenal, Everton, Conte, Maupay

The Toffees made a positive start to the 2021/22 campaign under Benitez. But they are now without a win in seven Premier League games. This poor form has seen them drop down to 14th in the table.

Benitez has only won two of his eight games against Liverpool. As reported by PA, he has insisted that he “wants to win and do well” for Everton:

“With Newcastle, Chelsea I’ve played against Liverpool. This time it is different. It will be an opportunity for us to change things.

“It’s a massive game for us, the derby is always an opportunity to put things right.

“A derby is always special in every country but I live in the city so the passion is massive and really important for everyone.

“That’s why I want to win and do well because for us as a club, it’s important to bring back the confidence and use an opportunity to change things for the rest of the season.

“As a manager you want to win and do well. It’s a challenge for me and I can understand the frustration from fans. It’s been some years we are not improving.

“I think the fans are intelligent and know we need them.

“You can complain when players are not playing well or tactics are not working but at the same time they cannot complain about the effort.

“It’s a derby, I’m sure they will be behind the team.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Jurgen Klopp suggested that Virgil van Dijk has “come back brilliant” since the “unlucky” injury that he picked up versus Everton:

“The situation [of Van Dijk’s injury] was unlucky, I haven’t seen it happen in another game since.

“Virg is very experienced. He just has to be completely free of all things in his mind because of one issue in the past.

“He’s come back brilliant. People are quick if things are not exactly like they were. Those judgements make no sense.

“He’s had time. Three games in a week, he looked fine but we gave him a break. Not sure that’s needed now for next games but we think about it from time to time.”

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