Carlo Ancelotti says Everton must perform with “focus and bravery and confidence” to achieve success in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
Everton go to Anfield for the 238th edition of the fixture in seventh position in the Premier League and aiming for the victory that would draw them level on points with Liverpool in sixth.
Ancelotti’s side have reserved a lot of their best football for away fixtures this season, claiming 23 points from 11 matches.
Their chances of sustaining that productive form this weekend, insists the Everton manager, will depend on devising a plan to cause their opponents a defensive headache.
That said, Ancelotti is grateful to have the tactically astute deep-lying midfielder Allan available after the Brazilian’s recovery from a hamstring problem that has sidelined him since 16 December.
“It is important to be focused on what we are going to do in the game, the strategy of the game, to be brave and confident,” said Ancelotti.
“And to try to play football.
“To play against Liverpool, you have to compete at the level they used to putting in the games.
“You have to try to find a solution up front, you cannot only defend against them.
“You have to try to propose something [cause problems offensively] and we are going to try to do that.
“I am happy to have Allan back, it is really important for us in this period, the consistency of the team is going to improve [as a result].
“Allan can add more intensity, more concentration defensively, but Tom Davies, who replaced him most of the time, did really well.
“It is important to have all the squad available and we are close to having all the players fit.
“We can rotate a little bit and keep everyone fresh.”
Ancelotti, speaking in his pre-match media briefing on Friday, revealed James Rodriguez was limited to an appearance from the bench against Manchester City on Wednesday because of a calf niggle.
The Colombian has reached "99-per-cent" fitness ahead of the weekend, added Ancelotti, who is expecting to meet a Liverpool side on a high after a midweek Champions League win over RB Leipzig.
Ancelotti, however, insisted his team will enter the season’s second derby free from pressure and intent on fighting tooth and nail for maximum points.
“It was a really difficult game against Manchester City and it will be a difficult game against Liverpool,” said Ancelotti, whose side lost 3-1 to league leaders City.
“A different game, because every team has its own quality and characteristics.
“The motivation is really high.
“We want to compete against our neighbours, it is a derby and a special game.
“They did really well against Leipzig… they are up and down like all the teams, apart from Manchester City, this season.
“But they will have more confidence after a good result and the motivation will be high for both teams.
“Every game you play against Liverpool for Everton you want to win.
“It could be the right time tomorrow.
“It depends on what we are able to do on the pitch, only this.
"We don’t have pressure... we are better compared to the past and can have more opportunity to get a result.
“James had a little problem with his calf but is now in good condition.
“I talk to him every day, he is happy here, confident and motivated.
“He really feels good here because everyone takes care of him.”
Everton are missing only centre-back Yerry Mina, who hurt a calf in the midweek game, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin for the trip to Liverpool.
In a campaign when Ancelotti has consistently been deprived of key performers, the Italian is greeting his selection puzzle with open arms.
Equally, the former AC Milan and Real Madrid boss is phlegmatic over the higher prevalence of injuries in a singularly condensed campaign.
“We have to manage the injuries this season; without a proper pre-season all the teams have more injuries,” said Ancelotti.
“You have to manage these kinds of things.
“Of course, you would like to have all the players available but this is impossible.
“The progress of the team, despite injuries, is good.”