Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders insists their rivalry with Manchester City must be respected if emotions are to avoid boiling again.
There have been a number of unsavory incidents among supporters in recent years, with the last meeting at Anfield in October marred by offensive graffiti about Hillsborough written in the away section and accusations of chanting about the 1989 disaster, in which 97 fans died.
City also claimed that coins had been thrown at their coaching staff, although an investigation by Liverpool failed to find any evidence and one of their buses was damaged leaving Anfield.
Manager Jurgen Klopp was also sent off in that match for hurling insults at an assistant referee, who failed to report a foul by Bernardo Silva on Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan and City counterpart Ferran Soriano have written a joint letter to supporters reminding them of their responsibilities in a bid to defuse tensions and Lijnders believes it was a good idea.
“It is very good that both clubs are working together. Ferran and Billy made a good statement, it was really clear,” he said ahead of the Carabao Cup match at the Etihad Stadium.
“We know the games against City matter and with the rivalry comes emotion and that’s good.
“We need emotion from the stands and we need to feel that these matches matter. The only problem with emotion is when there is no respect. Then it gets really difficult.
The escalation of off-pitch hostilities dates back to 2018, when the City squad manager was pelted with bottles and other objects upon his arrival for a Champions League quarter-final and there has been a grievance ever since between the two groups of fans.
Klopp was accused of stoking tensions ahead of the win two months ago – and his dismissal did not help his cause – with pre-match comments about City’s spending power, but Lijnders said the coaching staff needed to have a more distant view of what is happening in the stands and on the pitch.
“Of course. The most important sport is emotion. It’s going to the edges. The best sport is seeing the line that you want to cross but hold yourself back,” he added.
“It’s impossible for us to be completely emotional because the game is too fast for that.
“If I’m emotional on one side (of the pitch) the ball is already on the other side or Pep (Guardiola) has already changed something tactically and we have to be aware of countering him or something.
“Those who control their emotions are always the ones who go the furthest. Control your emotions, don’t let emotions control you. We are an example of this in our team”.
Liverpool are likely to name a stronger-than-usual Carabao Cup side against City as they look to maintain their grip on the trophy they won in February.
While neither Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk nor Ibrahima Konate, both centre-backs, will be present, their forward line is likely to include Salah and Firmino (who did not compete in the World Cup) and Darwin Nunez (eliminated with Uruguay in the group stage).