Rush: Everton still Liverpool's main rivals

Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush claims the Merseyside derby is still Liverpool’s biggest grudge match - ahead of encounters with Manchester United and Chelsea. Liverpool have traditionally had a fierce rivalry with Manchester United, while a bitterness with Chelsea has also developed in recent years, not least due to the sides meeting in three European Cup semi-finals since 2005. But Rush says matches with Everton are still the most important to the fans, telling “I think the Merseyside derby is still the main rivalry for Liverpool. In my day Liverpool and Everton were most probably the best two teams in Europe, let alone England, so it was always a massive game, and it still is. “The atmosphere in the city has been lifted by the two games coming up already, they’re two huge games – Liverpool obviously are chasing the title, but Everton are trying to get into Europe by finishing in the top five or six too, so there’s so much to play for.” Liverpool host Everton twice in the space of a week, with Monday night’s Premier League encounter being followed by an FA Cup fourth round clash on Sunday. Rush believes Liverpool will prioritise the points on offer, while Everton may target cup progression. “I think if you asked the supporters to chose, the Liverpool fans would rather have the three points from the league and the Everton fans would probably rather go through in the cup, as much as they’d like to dent Liverpool’s title challenge," said Rush. “It’ll be interesting to see if Liverpool put the same side out twice, that’s where their improved squad depth could come into play. Everton will obviously be very competitive in midfield, they’ll most likely play 4-5-1 and try and get a stranglehold on the game. “The FA Cup game will be interesting – the atmosphere will be more intense because there’ll be more Everton supporters there because it’s a cup game – but also if you make one mistake in the cup, you’re out, so it’ll be tense.”

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