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Oct 26, 2012

Rodgers predicts 'firecracker' derby

Brendan Rodgers has called on referee Andre Marriner to keep the lid on Sunday's Merseyside derby – after predicting it will be a "firecracker".

• Points, not pride, target for Rodgers
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• Moyes battles troubling record

The Liverpool manager feels his side have had a raw deal from referees in the Premier League this season, with three penalties and two red cards against them in the opening eight games.

Rodgers' team have yet to be awarded a spot-kick in the league this term, and he has made no secret of his belief that Luis Suarez's reputation for diving has resulted in a number of legitimate penalty appeals being rejected.

Marriner faces a thankless task at Goodison Park on Sunday, as Everton boss David Moyes also feels his team have been on the wrong end of a number of questionable refereeing decisions this season.

Moyes has seen 14 red cards in the 23 derbies he has faced in a decade at Goodison Park, 10 of them to Everton and four to Liverpool.

It suggests that Rodgers, who is preparing for his first Merseyside derby, is right to expect a fiery afternoon.

The Liverpool manager said: "I have seen it over the years - the real firecrackers of games, full of intensity and passion, which they should be because that is what derbies are about.

"But it is also important to stay calm, and I think the referee has a big part to play in it as well because I have also seen some of the challenges over the games in the past. I think the history of this game shows there have been a lot of red cards.

"I would hope this weekend that we might get a decision that goes our way for once. The Merseyside derby is a terrific game full of passion and quality, and I just hope the referee in Andre can really ensure that everything is in control and that the football is what is talked about."

Rodgers' side head to Goodison Park on the back of three clean sheets, having beaten Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 at Anfield in the Europa League on Thursday.

A single-goal win over Reading last Saturday lifted Liverpool to 12th in the Premier League, but they are still six points behind fourth-placed Everton.

Rodgers added: "Everton have started well and there is obviously talk of them being in the top four. They obviously feel they have the quality and experience to go and do that.

"For us, it is really about taking it game by game and looking to improve, and that is certainly what we are doing at the moment.

"The players have a real strong mentality at the moment. We have three clean sheets in the last three games, we have got some victories and the confidence is really high."

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