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Osman Wants Bragging Rights

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

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Leon Osman wants Everton to secure local bragging rights this weekend.
 
The Blues are on a superb run of form heading into Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley.
 
But Everton's closest rivals have won both league encounters this season and lifted the Carling Cup earlier in this campaign.
 
And Osman admits that the identity of the opponents is acting as an additional catalyst to this week's pre-match build-up on the training ground.
 
"It gives us that extra incentive to go out there and play well and win the game," he declared. "I think everyone in the squad is feeling that, not just me, Tony [Hibbert] and Bainesy particularly as local lads.
 
"When you come here [to training], there's always usually a buzz about the place. Whether we're playing well or we're in a poor run of results, we're always happy within these walls and we knuckle down to our training.
 
"The fact results have been going okay for us recently, there's probably an extra buzz for us."

Leon Osman celebrates at Wembley in 2009.

While the magnitude of the first ever Merseyside derby at the new Wembley can't be understated, the game is ‘only' a semi-final.
 
"It's a semi-final at Wembley," said Osman. "It's against our closest rivals. It's the occasion where form goes out the window. It's a game of football; you've got to get there and try and win the game - that's all that's important.
 
"That's what the FA Cup is all about. You have to play what's in front of you - you have to play what's presented out of the hat. It doesn't matter whether it's Premier League or non-league; it's the team you've got to go and beat to progress to the next round.
 
"That's the way we're looking at Saturday. It's a derby, it's at Wembley, it's a semi-final, but ultimately it's one more step to try and win the FA Cup."
 
Everton's form in 2012 has been impressive, with the Toffees having lost only two of 17 games. In recent weeks David Moyes has been able to rotate his squad with every squad member used acquitting themselves well.
 
It means that there is a genuine battle for positions when Moyes pens his semi-final team sheet.

"Reasonably pleased," was Osman's self-assessment of his current form. "It's good to be playing okay and scoring, but ultimately it's about the team picking up results and we've been doing that lately, so I'm quite happy.
 
"I think everybody has thrived on the competition for places. The manager made some really good signings in the January transfer window, which has given us all a kick up the backside, to be honest.
 
"There's been fighting for places, players have been coming in and having to play well, and we've been getting results ever since."

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