Everton manager Roberto Martinez has promised Liverpool that his team won’t surrender when they meet title favourites Manchester City at Goodison Park on Saturday.
City, currently three points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, know that maximum points from their final three games will see them crowned Premier League champions following the Reds’ unexpected defeat against Chelsea last weekend.
Liverpool therefore need a favour from Everton, Aston Villa or West Ham -- City’s last three opponents -- if they are to rescue their title dream with wins of their own against Crystal Palace and Newcastle.
Many Everton supporters would hate the idea that they may be the ones to help their despised Merseyside neighbours towards a first league title in 24 years by beating third placed City, but Martinez is adamant that’s what they will be trying to do.
“I have always felt the relationship between the clubs in the city over many, many years has had incredible chapters and this will be another fascinating chapter,” Martinez said.
“We are a football club and a team that wants to win every single game we go into and we are looking at ourselves. They are precious points for us, so we can’t afford not to give everything we have got for every point we have got left.
“Helping other teams is not the way we do our work. We are just focusing on trying to win for ourselves and have real high standards in every game we go into.”
Everton’s own incentive may have been slightly dimmed now that they look unlikely to qualify for the Champions League, with defeat in two of their last three matches allowing Arsenal to open up a four-point gap in fourth place.
But Martinez is still determined to end what has been an outstanding season at Goodison Park on a high with victory over City.
Recent history favours Everton with the Merseyside club beating City at home in each of the past four seasons.
But City will be determined not to let another opportunity to take the title slip through their hands after being handed back the initiative to finish top by Chelsea’s win at Anfield.
“We are back with a big chance of being champions again. We are not depending on other teams. It only depends on us, and that has changed a lot,” said midfielder Fernandinho.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini may recall David Silva if he is able to play through the pain of an on-going ankle problem.