By Phil Medlicott
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is sensing a confident mood among his players ahead of tomorrow's Merseyside derby.
The Reds take on local rivals Everton at Goodison Park in a Barclays Premier League game that many have the hosts down as favourites for.
The Toffees, currently fourth in the table, have made an impressive start to the season and there has been talk about the chances of them sustaining their form for the rest of the campaign to secure a Champions League berth.
David Moyes' side are already six points ahead of 12th-placed Liverpool, who are still finding their feet under their new manager following Rodgers' appointment over the summer.
The Reds head into the contest with some momentum, though, having beaten Reading last Saturday 1-0 and then Anzhi Makhachkala by the same score in the Europa League on Thursday.
Those results made it three consecutive clean sheets, including the 0-0 league draw with Stoke, and Rodgers has emphasised that his team are feeling good about their game right now.
"Everton have started well and there is obviously talk of them being in the top four," Rodgers said.
"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."
Rodgers has expressed his unhappiness this season with the way his team have been treated by officials, and with that and the likely intensity of tomorrow's encounter in mind, the manager is looking for a strong performance from referee Andre Marriner.
"I have seen it (the Merseyside derby) over the years - the real firecrackers of games, full of intensity and passion, which they should be because that is what derbies are about," Rodgers said.
"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 over the games some of the challenges. 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."
Rodgers will continue to monitor the condition of goalkeeper Jose Reina ahead of tomorrow's game.
Reina has been nursing a hamstring problem picked up on international duty with Spain and missed the Reading and Anzhi matches, but has been back in training at the Reds' Melwood complex.