Fernando Torres has told Everton they will face a more confident Liverpool side than at any time this season when the Merseyside rivals meet for the third time in 16 days tomorrow. After defeating Chelsea to stay in the title race on Sunday, the Reds must overcome Everton at Goodison Park if they are to keep alive their dream of a Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup treble. Having drawn 1-1 at Anfield, the city rivals meet in an FA Cup fourth-round replay to decide who faces Aston Villa or Doncaster Rovers in the last 16.
Torres ended his four-month Premier League goal drought by scoring both goals as Liverpool moved to within two points of leaders Manchester United, with the 2-0 victory over Chelsea. And the Spain striker believes that result has brought the dressing room to life after a stuttering spell which threatened to derail their season.
Everton also held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw in the league last month, but Torres reckons Liverpool are revitalised after the Chelsea match. "We knew before we faced Chelsea that we needed to win. We have a lot more confidence now, of course," said Torres, who has netted eight times during an injury-troubled season.
"It's a very long title race," the Spain striker added. "We know that United are at the top of the table at the moment but we have time and are going to fight until the end. It brings us closer than before, and we know that we still have a chance."
Torres is expected to start at Goodison Park, where he scored twice on his last visit in the league in September. Benitez could also recall Yossi Benayoun to the starting line-up after the Israel international's impressive substitute performance against Chelsea.
But Robbie Keane will not feature after becoming an increasingly marginal figure at Anfield. After weeks of speculation about his future, Keane will return to Tottenham Hotspur for several million pounds less than the £20m the Reds paid for the Republic of Ireland forward last July.
With a league game at Portsmouth this Saturday to take into account, Benitez could also include Daniel Agger or Sami Hyypia in the centre of defence. Long-serving Hyypia is due to be included in Benitez's UEFA Champions League squad list.
The Finland international has not featured in Europe so far this season, but Benitez has confirmed that he will be part of the 25-man pool of players for the knockout stages of the competition where Liverpool face Real Madrid in the last-16. Benitez has been examining his options before deciding on which players will feature and Hyypia takes his place at the expense of right-back Philipp Degen.
Everton have completed the signing of Jo on loan from Manchester City until the end of the season. But the 21-year-old Brazil international, will not be eligible to face Liverpool after he appeared as a second-half substitute during City's FA Cup third round defeat by Nottingham Forest. Jo, who scored three times in 12 starts for City after his £18 million move from CSKA Moscow in July, is likely to make his Everton debut in Saturday's league game at home to Bolton Wanderers.
Everton manager David Moyes is expected to keep faith with the same team which narrowly lost 1-0 at Manchester United on Saturday, with Tim Cahill leading the forward line on his own. The Australian international, normally a midfielder, has been in excellent form lately, scoring twice in the last four games.
Wednesday's other fourth-round replays include an all-Premier League game between strugglers Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland, while high-flyers Villa take on lower league Doncaster. Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest and Derby County meet in a Midlands derby.