Everton-Liverpool derby will be fantastic, says Rafa Benitez

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Rafael Benitez backs Everton to push Liverpool in derby

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez says Saturday's Merseyside derby against Everton will be "fantastic".

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has spent over £100m since his return in January, while David Moyes was limited to three loan signings over the summer and sold Mikel Arteta to Arsenal.

"A derby is a derby," Benitez told BBC Sport. "It doesn't matter if you have spent money or not.

"The passion will be there and I think it will be a fantastic game."

Dalglish recruited well over the summer, bringing in midfielder Craig Bellamy from Manchester City and midfielders Stewart Downing from Aston Villa and Charlie Adam from Blackpool.

Brazilian goalkeeper Doni also arrived from Roma as back up for Pepe Reina and was joined by defenders Sebastian Coates from Nacional and Jose Enrique from Newcastle and midfielder Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.

Everton, meanwhile, sold influential midfielder Arteta on transfer deadline day and forward James Vaughan to Norwich while only bringing in Tigre forward Denis Stracqualursi, Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe on loan, and Sporting Lisbon defender Eric Dier, all on loan.

Liverpool made a strong start to the season with wins over Arsenal and Bolton, however a narrow defeat to Stoke followed by a four-goal thumping at Tottenham have followed.

Everton have also had an indifferent start securing victories over Blackburn and Wigan but falling short against newly-promoted QPR and Manchester City.

Benitez, who has been out of work since getting sacked by Inter Milan in December last year, believes Liverpool should be pleased with their start and the game at Goodison Park will be a good barometer for his former club's form.

"I think they're doing really well," added Benitez who was speaking at the launch of the Montse Benitez Charitable Foundation. "They have had some good results and some not so good but overall, it has been a good start.

"Derbies are fantastic and game will be proof for the fans to see if the team are going forward.

"I liked to be involved with derbies in the past and I'll definitely enjoy watching this weekend's game from home."

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