Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has told the Premier League leaders not to be distracted from their quest to win the English title by the hype surrounding their derby FA Cup tie with Everton. The Merseyside rivals will clash twice in a week, in the League on 19 January and then in the fourth round of the Cup the following weekend.
Both matches are at Liverpool's Anfield home ground and Benitez told the club's official website on Monday: "It is a draw which will excite everyone in the city, because everyone knows about the great rivalry that exists between the two clubs.
"But we must remember that we have some big games coming up in the league before the cup tie - and we will be taking one game at a time," the notoriously cautious Spaniard added. "Only when the cup game comes around will it become our focus. Before then we play Stoke and Everton in the league, so we must keep our attention on those matches.
"But it is good to have so many important matches, because it shows that your team is doing well."
Liverpool have been boosted by the return of fit-again Fernando Torres, who scored on his comeback in last weekend's 2-0 Cup win over Preston. Reds defender Jamie Carragher said that Torres' absence had perhaps been a help to the Spanish star.
"Having Torres back has given everyone a big lift. It is great when you see a player of that calibre coming back for the second half of the season," said Torres. "We hope the time he has been out will refresh him, because he had a long season with the Euro 2008 finals last summer.
"A lot of players have played a lot of games this season, because the manager hasn't changed it around so much," Carragher went on. "It has been a feather in the cap for everyone concerned with the club that we have reached the top of the table without having the best striker in the world in the side."