Joel Matip is anticipating a 'special' first experience of the Merseyside derby this weekend – and one he insists Liverpool will give everything in order to win for their supporters.
Everton will make the short hop across Stanley Park on Saturday morning ahead of the 12.30pm kick-off for the 228th edition of the fixture.
Earlier this season, the Reds recorded a 1-0 victory at Goodison Park courtesy of Sadio Mane’s last-gasp winner, though Matip sat out the game due to injury.
Nevertheless, the sense of occasion is not lost on the centre-back as he gears up to contest it for the first time.
He told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s a special game for all of the supporters and the club. It will be a tense game and we will fight and give everything to win.
“It’s a special atmosphere when these two teams play against each other, but we are used to it and will use the atmosphere to try and help us win this game.
“They are a very strong team, but we also have our qualities. We will not hide. We will do our best, we believe in our qualities and we’re looking forward to this game.”
LFCTV GO: Matip looks ahead to his first derby
One man Matip might come into direct competition with on Saturday lunchtime is the Premier League’s top goalscorer, Romelu Lukaku.
The striker has netted 21 times so far in the division this season; however, Liverpool’s No.32 insists they will look to deal with his threat as a unit.
“He is a brilliant striker and player,” he said. “It’ll be a really hard challenge but do it as we always do – as a team, defending and attacking. I’m hoping it’ll work.
“We have seen a lot of games, we will see a few videos, we will do it together. There will be no special talk about Lukaku. We all know his qualities and he is always good for a goal, so we will try our best not to let this happen.”
Heading into the weekend, Liverpool occupy fourth place in the table, though competition to clinch a Champions League berth is hotting up as the campaign enters its final straight.
The Reds are just three points behind Tottenham Hotspur in second, though Manchester United are four off Jürgen Klopp’s side with two games in hand.
That said, Matip is confident a derby win will send Liverpool into the season’s final eight fixtures in a strong position.
He added: “I am positive and looking forward to these games [to come]. I think we are on a good way to get back to our top quality and finish the season well.
“[Winning the derby] would give us a push. We will try to get it to stay in this momentum and to continue.
“We will try to do our best to make our supporters proud and happy.”