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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Coutinho fired up for Merseyside derby

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is hoping to continue his unbeaten run in the Merseyside derby which he believes is as intense for players as it is for fans.

The Brazil international has scored twice in seven appearances in cross-city encounters since joining the Reds in January 2013, enjoying two wins and five draws.

He missed the last-gasp victory at Goodison Park in December as he was injured, but is keen to reacquaint himself with the fixture this weekend at Anfield.

"The rivalry is like any derby - it's intense," said Coutinho, who is currently on international duty with Brazil.

"I've experienced these games both home and away and the intensity is equal with the fans.

"You're always on TV, it's one of the most difficult games and I don't think this one will be any different.

"The week before the game, you can't wait to play and if you win, the level of joy you give to the fans is amazing.

"They're the victories you always enjoy."

There is plenty at stake in the 228th Merseyside derby with Ronald Koeman's seventh-placed side just six points behind the Reds, in fourth.

With Manchester United and Arsenal, both with two matches in hand, waiting to take advantage Coutinho knows Liverpool cannot afford any mistakes.

"It's very important, obviously it's our aim (to finish in the top four)" the 24-year-old said.

"All the games are like finals and if we're going to achieve our aim we need a lot of points."

Coutinho was in Brazil's squad for a World Cup qualifier at home to Paraguay yesterday along with club-mate Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool have chartered a private jet to get the pair home as quickly as possible in the hope they can train tomorrow ahead of Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.

Meanwhile, Everton captain Phil Jagielka believes the horrific injury sustained by Seamus Coleman provides additional motivation for his team-mates on Saturday.

"There are two massive games coming up and that's one thing Seamus will want us to do, to play well and get some good results," said Jagielka, who knows it is a pivotal week in their season with Manchester United at Old Trafford coming three days after the clash against their near neighbours.

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