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ANDY: REDS FAVOURITES FOR TITLE; DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP; Waterworth warns Blues: We led by 4pts last Xmas & Cliftonville lifted Gibson Cup.

Byline: DARREN FULLERTON

ANDY Waterworth knows from bitter experience how fragile Linfield's lead is at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

The seasoned striker also insists Cliftonville remain firm favourites s to lift the Gibson Cup in April.

Warren Feeney's Blues hold a four point advantage over the Reds, Portadown and Crusaders heading into today's Big Two derby with rivals Glentoran at Windsor Park.

But while Waterworth is content with the table-top cushion, he need only rewind 12 months to locate a cautionary note.

Check the stats and you'll find Linfield held the same four point advantage at the top heading into last season's Boxing Day derby.

The rest is history.

The South Belfast club went on to finish second, six points behind eventual champions Cliftonville. "We were four clear at the same stage last year but Cliftonville went on to win it," said Waterworth.

"A lot of this Linfield team has been in this position before, so we know from experience how things can change very quickly.

"There's great belief in the changing room, but we can't take anything for granted. We're not thinking about titles yet."

While the bookies have installed Linfield as 6/5 favourites to lift the Gibson Cup, Waterworth believes Cliftonville are most pundits' tips to win the championship for a third successive year.

"I don't think we're favourites - Cliftonville are," he said. "They've been the league's top side in recent times and I think most people expect them to win it."

Waterworth, who has scored 37 goals in 63 appearances for the Blues since joining the club from Glentoran in 2013, is relishing this afternoon's showdown with his former club.

The Glens approach the festive showdown on the back of three straight wins, including a last gasp 2-1 victory over Cliftonville last weekend.

"They're going well and so are we, but form goes out the window in a derby," he said. "Very often it comes down to who wants it more on the day."

Linfield, who have won seven and drawn one of their last eight league games, eased clear at the top thanks to Saturday's 3-2 win over Portadown.

"It was a big win but we must build on it," said Waterworth.

DEC 26, 2013 BLUES WERE TOP OF THE PREMIERSHIP PL PTS LINFIELD 21 45 CLIFT'VILLE 21 41 CRUSADERS 21 40 PORT'DOWN 21 35 APRIL 26, 2013 IT WAS REDS WHO TOPPED FINAL TABLE PL PTS CLIFT'VILLE 38 85 LINFIELD 38 79 CRUSADERS 38 66 PORT'DOWN 38 62 today's fixtures P GdPts Linfield 22 +14 46 Cliftonville 22 +22 42 Crusaders 22 +19 42 Portadown 22 +18 42 Glentoran 22 +9 36 Coleraine 22 +1 33 Glenavon 22 +4 30 Ballymena U 22 -13 26 B'mallard U 22 -15 22 Institute 22 -22 18 Dungannon 22 -16 16 Warrenpoint 22 -21 14 Ballymena U v Coleraine Cliftonville v Crusaders Dungannon v Ball'mallard Institute v Warrenpoint Linfield v Glentoran Portadown v Glenavon how they stand...

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WATER TIGHT LEAGUE RACE Waterworth and Linfield are in a four way Gibson Cup chase with Cliftonville, Ports and Crusaders

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 26, 2014
Words:515
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