Sam Allardyce says Everton must deliver a “top performance” to overcome Liverpool in Saturday’s Merseyside derby – and ensure Cenk Tosun is provided with the ammunition to maintain his prolific scoring run.
Allardyce admits he is relishing the prospect of taking charge of his first Goodison Park derby and wants to “give our supporters something to smile” about this weekend.
And the manager – who is unbeaten in his past three Premier League meetings with Liverpool, including December’s 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at Anfield – has told his players it is imperative they “master” the Reds’ tactics when Everton have the ball.
Central to achieving that aim will be feeding Allardyce’s first signing Tosun, who joined from Besiktas in January and has struck four times in his past four games. In the same period, the Turkish striker has had nine efforts at goal, with seven of those directed on target.
“The whole team know that if they provide a chance for Cenk he will score it,” Allardyce told evertontv.
“His ratio is going to be pretty good as he gets better and better. And I do not think he is at his best yet.
“The team should understand that the more chances we provide this lad, the more goals he will score.
“I think his conversion rate is exceptionally good. He only needs one or two chances a game to score which is a massive bonus for us.
“But we have to provide him with those chances. That is a big thing for us – can we provide other players with chances, yes – but particularly with his finishing ability, can we get Cenk in the box with the ball at his feet or on his head?
“If we can do that I think he can score.
“The lads know what to expect from this match, there is no doubt about that – and knowing how to counter the tactic Liverpool use when they are not in possession is key.
“We will win possession back – and Liverpool play a certain way when they are out of possession, which we will have to master. If we do master that, then we will get opportunities to get in to their defensive third.
“And if we are good enough and clinical enough in the final third, we can score some goals. At the other end we have to be as resilient as we were at Anfield. If we are, they will find it very difficult to score against us.
“That is the first thing we have to master, the second will be our possession and what we do with it.”
Everton have lost only twice in 11 matches at Goodison, with Allardyce winning five and drawing two of his nine home games as boss. Indeed, the Toffees lie seventh in the form table since the manager was appointed.
The Blues, however, will encounter a Liverpool side in a rich vein of form. Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost only twice in the Premier League in 2018 and overcame Manchester City in a Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie in midweek.
But Allardyce wants his team to draw encouragement from the way they competed with the Reds at Anfield where Wayne Rooney’s late penalty equalised Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal.
The former England boss has managed in cup finals and London and north east derby encounters – and is keenly anticipating his first taste of the all-Merseyside affair on home soil.
“I am looking forward to experiencing it on our own patch,” said Allardyce. “I am looking forward to our fans cheering us on and, hopefully, giving them something to smile about over the weekend.
“If we can deliver that then we have done our job and can move on to the last few games of the season.
“It is a huge game for us… massive for us to try to deliver on the day.
“It is almost two completely different teams [from the previous league meeting]. If you look at our team which started the game then and the one which will start tomorrow, there will be quite a few changes.
“Some of the players who are injured, we would like to be fit but they are not – and we are glad to have some of the players back who were not fit then.
“There is no doubt we will have to deliver our top performance, irrespective of whether Liverpool change their team or not.
“It is a derby game and these matches, hopefully, draw the best possible performance from each individual and the team on the park on the day.”