Everton vs Liverpool
Venue: Goodison Park
TV: Sky Sports Arena
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Everton host Liverpool in one of the most important Merseyside derbies in recent memory.
With bragging rights all to play for, Everton would enjoy denting Liverpool’s league title credentials, while Jurgen Klopp’s side will be looking to keep Man City at bay.
Marco Silva will be hoping to start a winning run after their first win after thrashing Cardiff 0-3 for their first victory in February. The Toffees have been far from impressive in recent fixtures and a win against Liverpool would give Everton back-to-back wins for only the second time this season. After an impressive midweek performance saw them catch up to Wolves and Watford, a win against their oldest rivals could reignite their season as they chase a Europa League spot.
Liverpool have not been having the steadiest run of late. Draws to Leicester, West Ham, Man United in the league and Bayern Munich in the Champions League have halted Liverpool’s usual rampant attacking displays. However, a 3-0 win against Bournemouth two weeks ago and a 5-0 win over Watford in this midweek fixture list should provide confidence to the Reds. A ferocious display from Liverpool was a strong response after their draw to their Manchester rivals as they showed how clinical their attack can be.
They will need to have their shooting boots on this weekend if they are to breakdown Everton at Goodison Park. They only thing that separated the two sides in their previous meeting was a last-minute mistake from Jordan Pickford that provide Divok Origi with the simplest of finishes.
Recent results have shown just how important Liverpool’s attack are to their title chances and if Everton are to earn points, they will need to be tight defensively and limit their oppositions attack options. This is no easy task considering Sadio Mane scored twice while Origi also got on the scoresheet against Watford. They also registered 19 shots in the fixture showing how creative Klopp’s attacking team can be.
Everton will be spurred on by the fact that they kept a clean sheet against Cardiff midweek but the difference in attacks is clear. The solid defensive display on Tuesday night saw Cardiff unable to test Pickford, and Silva will be hoping for a similar defensive display. The return of Phil Jagielka to the back four provided a leadership that perhaps has been missing in recent weeks. They have kept clean sheets seven times this season, but Liverpool have only failed to score twice in the league this season in the league.
Who is key for the two sides?
Without a doubt, Everton will have to put on a strong team display. Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked lively against Cardiff and added the third which may have earned him a starting spot in the derby. If he does start, he has a big task ahead of him as he will go head-to-head with Virgil Van Dijk. Richarlison is usually always a threat going forward but looked out of ideas against a physical Cardiff defense and has yet to score against one of this season’s big six.
Perhaps the best chance of goals in the derby is from playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson who has 11 goals this season. He was at the center of play against Cardiff and deservedly picked up a man of the match award. He has turned up for Everton against the big teams this season, scoring against Spurs and United.
Everton will have to put in a defensive display as the usual suspects remain as Liverpool’s key players. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will be looking to stand out in the game. Salah however, is in a bit of a goal drought and has failed to score in his last three games. The Egyptian will be itching to get back on the score sheet and there would be no better day to do it than on derby day.
Robert Firminho did not feature against Watford after coming off injured against Man United and looks to be adoubt this weekend also. His absence has been the cause for other players to step up. Mane bagged two against the Hornets. Mane always looks lively and could be a real handful if Liverpool play anything like they did against Watford. Origi will also be hoping his goal against Watford earns him his spot in the Liverpool side come Sunday.
Marco Silva is arguably yet to find his strongest side this season. With an empty injury list, he has a full choice of players. Morgan Schneiderlin and Phil Jagielka were recently reinstated to the starting lineup and Silva has to decide if they are worthy of another start against their rivals. Andre Gomes was a standout player for Everton in the last derby and made a substitute appearance against Cardiff, while there is also debate over starting Theo Walcott or Ademola Lookman.
Liverpool are without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez, Ryan Brewster and Dejan Lovren. They should have Firminho returning after he could have played against Watford if Klopp was willing to risk him. The right-back concerns seem to have abated with the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold who was exceptional against Watford and bagged himself three assists. The main choice for Klopp is whether he swaps out Origi after scoring midweek.
Head to Head
In 53 meetings the two sides have drawn 21 times while Everton have won nine and Liverpool have won 23 times. Liverpool are used to picking up points at Goodison Park, winning 10 away, trumping Everton’s seven wins.
Everton (4-5-1): Pickford; Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Digne; Gomes, Gueye, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Walcott; Calvert-Lewin
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Fabinho; Salah, Mane, Firminho
Score Prediction: Everton 1 Liverpool 2
Liverpool’s attack was impressive against Watford last time out and with Everton being at home, they will have to attack to please their fans. Liverpool will be likely to catch the Toffees on the break and Pickford will definitely be tested. With both teams having so much to play for, Liverpool cannot afford to slip up. With the return of Firminho to complete their front three, they have the potential to score goals whilst their resolute defencee are likely to prevent Everton’s forwards from getting anything out of the game.