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Everton v Liverpool: Rodgers welcomes pressure

Brendan Rodgers claims Liverpool are embracing the tag of favourites ahead of their Merseyside derby at Everton on Sunday.

Liverpool have struggled to convince early in 2015-16, with their latest below-par performance coming in Thursday's 1-1 draw with Sion in the Europa League.

A 3-2 victory at home to Aston Villa last Saturday was their first win in the Premier League for five matches, while they laboured to overcome fourth-tier Carlisle United on penalties in the League Cup last week.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez used his pre-match press conference on Friday to try and pile the pressure on Liverpool, citing their considerable transfer expenditure in recent seasons as the reason Rodgers' side should be expected to win at Goodison Park.

But the Northern Irishman used his own briefing with the media to talk up his team.

"We will always take the favourites tag," Rodgers said.

"At Liverpool that's what you want. We're happy to take the favourites tag. We are Liverpool and we expect to work like that.

"There's no advantage or disadvantage to being favourites. It shows that we are a big club and people look to us to take the initiative.

"Every game we go into, the level of the opponents goes up, because of the nature of the club we are.

"It shows the club we are at, the level of expectancy as opposed to other clubs. We have to live with that, we are expected to do well, and it's about helping the team evolve and deal with that expectancy."

Everton, with three wins from their last four matches in all competitions, are in better form and at home, but have not tasted derby success since October 2010.

They came from two goals down to beat West Brom 3-2 at The Hawthorns last Monday, but Martinez is having to contend with a lengthy injury list. 

While Seamus Coleman and John Stones could return from hamstring and knee injuries respectively, Muhamed Besic (hamstring), Tom Cleverley (ankle/foot), Leighton Baines (ankle/foot), Tony Hibbert (knee) and Steven Pienaar (hamstring) are all out.

Liverpool do not have a clean bill of health either. Dejan Lovren (ankle), Roberto Firmino (back) and captain Jordan Henderson (foot) are all sidelined. 

Centre-forward Christian Benteke faces a fitness test to determine his availability as he seeks to return from a hamstring injury.

His fellow striker Daniel Sturridge started and scored twice in the win over Villa and should continue up front at Goodison.