Football - Bullish Distin eyes Anfield win to soothe derby wounds

Everton's Sylvain Distin mocked Liverpool fans on Friday for "begging for a mistake" from the defender in this weekend's Premier League Merseyside derby.

Reuters

Distin made a costly error in last season's FA Cup semi-final between the teams, under-hitting a backpass that allowed Luis Suarez to level the scores before Andy Carroll netted the winner to send Liverpool through.

The centre back admits he endured a "tough few weeks" after that during which he questioned his future in the game.

A year on, however, he is in a bullish mood.

"My red followers been very quiet this season. I wonder why. Now they beg me for a mistake to make them feel better. I'm feeling sad for them," Distin said on Twitter.

Everton sit five points clear of Liverpool in the Premier League and victory at Anfield on Sunday would maintain their hopes of European football next season.

It will also guarantee that they finish above their rivals for successive seasons for the first time since 1937.

While last April's defeat left Distin with a few mental scars, he says he prefers to use it as a motivation heading into Sunday's game.

"It's strange because when people ask me for my highlight of last season I often mention the semi-final," he said on the club website (www.evertonfc.com).

"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.

"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."

Liverpool, who come into the game unbeaten in their last five and on a high after crushing Newcastle United 6-0, have not lost to Everton at home in 14 years.

Their manager Brendan Rodgers, who will take charge of his first Merseyside derby at Anfield, played down the significance of overhauling their rivals in the table.

"It's very important to finish as high as we possibly can. Traditionally, over many years Liverpool have been the top team here in the city, there's no question about that," he told reporters.

"Last year Everton finished above ourselves, but for us this year it's really about finishing as high as we possibly can."

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