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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Andy Lewis @efc_andylewis

David Moyes says he and his players are relaxed and confident as they prepare for the 216th Merseyside derby.

The Blues welcome their near neighbours to Goodison on Saturday for an eagerly-anticipated lunchtime kick-off in what is one of the Premier League’s marquee fixtures.

Moyes says that, as per usual, he will send his players out with a blend of passion, commitment and controlled aggression as they seek to find the right formula for derby success.

And the Everton boss says he has been encouraged by the atmosphere at Finch Farm this week in the build-up to the big game.

“I think we have had a good week,” said Moyes. “I think in many ways the mentality comes from the manager. They notice how I am – I could be more stressed than normal or more relaxed than normal – they pick up on the vibes.

“But we have been quite happy. We were pleased with what we did at Man City last week – I know we did not get the result – but we did a lot of things right and we have had a relaxed week.

“The eyes have popped out a few times but no more than normal!”

The Merseyside derby is of course the most played domestic fixture of them all and Moyes believes it remains a unique occasion.

And with him set to lead a team out in the derby for the 21st time – he says his prolonged involvement in the fixture is a source of great pride.

“When I look back after it is all over I will feel very proud and privileged that I was involved in so many,” he said. “My job is to now make sure I get a few more wins in them.

Dalglish moyes

“They are all nerve-wracking but any derby, whether it be at Goodison or at Anfield, is great for the supporters. The people are passionate about football – they want to support their teams and there is no harm in that.

“Derbies are not all the same,” he added. “Sometimes you need to be cool, sometimes you need to show more passion, while sometimes you get poor refereeing decisions which have made it seem a lot worse than it was.

"You need a good referee and a balance between being committed and wanting to do well for your team and going over the top.”

During his time at the Goodison helm Moyes has seen off three Liverpool managers, but is now up against a fourth in Kenny Dalglish – a man he used to idolise in his days as a young fan of the Scottish national team.

And Moyes believes Dalglish’s arrival has given their rivals a real lift in the past 12 months.

“There was no Scottish lad who was not a fan of Kenny Dalglish,” he said. “Kenny came down and did great playing for Liverpool but I followed him as a player for Scotland. I was a Scotland supporter and used to go to all the games and he was involved with all the great Scottish teams of that time, so you would have to be a fan, wouldn’t you?

“This time last year Liverpool were not in a great position,” he added. “But they have had a change of owner, a change of manager and some new players – everyone knows that and it is there for everyone to see.

“Liverpool have got good players and we will have to be careful. Since Kenny came in he has transformed them. As I said, a year ago it was very different, but with their spending and Kenny coming in he has given them a lift.”

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