Liverpool’s chances of beating local rivals Everton in the FA Cup tonight have been boosted by their victory over Chelsea at the weekend, claims manager Rafael Benitez.
The Anfield men face a fourth-round replay at a hostile Goodison Park, with a home tie against Aston Villa or Doncaster awaiting the winners.
Benitez accepts that Liverpool’s form had been patchy during the past few weeks, despite the fact that they have gone 16 matches unbeaten in all competitions.
A string of draws, including two against Everton last month, underlined Liverpool’s inconsistency.
They were held 1-1 twice on their own ground by the Toffees, once in the league and once in the Cup.
But Benitez feels that the victory over Chelsea on Sunday thanks to a late double by Fernando Torres (pictured), has been a major boost to team morale.
He said: "Everything was positive against Chelsea, so going into the derby we are very confident.
"In the first game, the league match, we did not play well. In the second game we were much better, so hopefully this replay will see us play like we did in the first cup tie.
"The players needed to show their character, and now we know we can beat anyone. It will be difficult at Goodison Park, but we can do it.
"Our win over Chelsea gave everyone a lift, especially as it was against a side at the top of the table with us."
Benitez was critical of Everton’s defensive tactics in both recent games at Anfield, but he would not be drawn into further comment on the subject on the eve of the replay.
He said: "I do not know how Everton will play, whether they will attack more. But maybe in front of their own fans they will have to be more offensive.
"We have done well at Goodison Park of late, and we have enough confidence. But we know it is a derby and very, very difficult.
"We will have to approach the game carefully and we know it will be really tough. Anything can happen in this type of game."
Benitez has revealed that he has had talks with both of the club’s American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over his contract.
The pair were at the Chelsea match, sitting at different ends of the directors’ box, and have now returned to the States.
Benitez said: "I have had a conversation with both owners.
“Before the game (against Chelsea) those talks were positive, after the game they were even more positive!
"I was happy with those conversations, but I know no more about my contract."