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Sylvain Distin has gone out of his way to attract the wrath of Liverpool fans ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby, insisting he "feels sad" for those who have attended Anfield regularly this season. • Everton blog: Top derby goals
• Liverpool blog: An irrational game Everton and Liverpool prepare for a significant local battle this weekend, with the Toffees desperate for a victory that would keep alive their hopes of European football next season. A win would also guarantee they finish above their more illustrious rivals for a second consecutive campaign, although this time it would feel significantly sweeter given the fact Liverpool came out on top of their FA Cup semi-final showdown 12 months ago. During that Wembley defeat, Distin was at fault for sparking Liverpool's comeback after his poor backpass allowed Luis Suarez to level before Andy Carroll netted a late winner. Now he appears in the mood for revenge.

"My red followers been very quiet this season," Distin tweeted. "I wonder why. Now they beg me for a mistake to make them feel better. I'm feeling sad for them." Distin has admitted that he considered retiring after last season's semi-final anguish – but insists the experience has made him stronger. He told the Liverpool Echo: "Things like that will happen to a player during their career; big game, big mistake. I came out stronger. "It wasn't easy. I had a tough few weeks with all sorts of thoughts going through my mind – even: Should I stop football? It went that far. But I came out stronger and that's the most important thing. "You learn more when you lose those kind of games. When you win, you just celebrate and then turn the page. When you get beat it stays with you. You analyse what happened more. "I don't want to lose any more but there can be positives." Distin has happier memories of the Merseyside derby – he scored in a 2-2 Premier League draw at Anfield in January 2011. But he feels he learned more from the agony of losing last season's FA Cup semi-final. He said: "It's strange because when people ask me for my highlight of last season I often mention the semi-final. "Some people don't understand why I'd say that but I learned a lot about myself and my team-mates, the staff here and the fans. You see what people really feel. Also you learn a lot about yourself." Victory for Liverpool would move them within two points of Everton with as many games remaining, and Stewart Downing is convinced the Reds can close the gap despite Suarez's absence due to a suspension. They are unbeaten in the last five meetings between the two clubs, and Downing wants to play on the desperation surrounding the Blues. "The fact that they haven't won at Anfield for so long has to play on their minds," he told the Liverpool Echo. "I am sure David Moyes will get right amongst them. He must be desperate to beat Liverpool. "But we don't want that record to end. We did really well against Everton in the three games last season and we would have won at Goodison earlier this season but for Luis Suarez's goal being wrongly disallowed. "We have to be ready and make sure we start well. It will be a good test for us and it will be tight with battles all over the pitch, but we're confident we can get another win."


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