It is a strange situation for Merseyside—two teams more used to intense derbies than giving each other a nudge in the right direction.
On the Mind
But such is Liverpool's, and the Premier League title storyline's, interest in Everton v Manchester City this weekend that it became a focus of Roberto Martinez's press conference this week.
The 40-year-old Spaniard kept his cool persona and dismissed any suggestions that Liverpool's aspirations even come into his players' minds for this Saturday's clash at Goodison Park, per Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph:
I always felt the relationship between the two clubs in this city has had incredible chapters and this would be another fascinating one but there is no doubting our integrity towards the league and competition, we want to win every single game we go into.
They are precious points for us and we cannot afford not to give everything we have. Helping other teams – that's not the way we do our work. We are just focused on trying to win for ourselves.
Martinez is completely right—Everton's focus this weekend is on themselves and only themselves. Liverpool's interest is completely secondary.
Having said that, it's not like it hasn't been mentioned around Everton this week.
Leon Osman, while keeping his professional head and saying that getting a result for Everton is the prime objective, acknowledged the effect taking points off Manchester City would have for Liverpool, per Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail:
We’re professionals and it’s what we do. It’s a big game at Goodison and we want to enjoy it and win it.
City needed to rely on a slip-up by Liverpool to give them a chance so they’re probably favourites now and it’s up to us to stop them.
A lot of clubs will be watching this game very closely but we’ve got to put all that out of our minds and do what we always do and go into the game to win.
The most bitter of Evertonians must find themselves in a difficult situation this week with the prospect of having a helping hand in delivering the Premier League title back on a plate for their local archrivals.
It could have been worse, however. Had results last weekend fallen another way, Everton could have won the title for Liverpool at Goodison this weekend.
As football history has shown us, there are no favours in this sport.
When Blackburn Rovers went to Anfield on the final day of the 1995 Premier League season, a win would have guaranteed them the Premier League title and subjected Alex Ferguson's Manchester United to second place.
Despite their fierce rivalry with United and nothing to play for, Liverpool handed no favours to Kenny Dalglish's Rovers. Jamie Redknapp scored a 90th-minute winner for the Reds to sink Rovers 2-1.
As fate would have it, United only managed a 1-1 draw with West Ham, and so Dalglish and Rovers lifted the league title in front of the Kop.
In 2010, a scenario that came back to haunt Steven Gerrard this week saw him slip a perfectly weighted through ball the wrong way and into the path of Chelsea's Didier Drogba to help Chelsea edge away from Manchester United—a result that helped the Blues pip United come May.
Twist of Fate
Fate or coincidence, these types of scenarios do exist, and Liverpool will be hoping for a slice of luck going Everton's way on Saturday afternoon.
It makes for a fascinating subplot to the final stages of the season.
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