One of the most important rules to remember about sports is that it’s not always about winning and succeeding, but sometimes about preventing your greatest rivals from doing the same. Everton hosting Manchester City is probably the biggest match remaining in the exciting Premier League title race, and it means the world to Liverpool, Everton’s Merseyside derby rivals.
The Premier League is often praised for its sportsmanship – teams that have nothing to play for still come out and give it their best to try and win matches that have no meaning to them against teams with goals still in tact: relegation battles, European qualification, championships.
Right now, Liverpool hold the lead in the Premier League, with two matches remaining for them to play. They are two points above Chelsea and three above Manchester City, but City have one game in hand, as they face Everton on the road, at Goodison Park, next.
Everton still have something to play for this season, although their chances of actually finishing fourth for only the second time since the inaugural season of the Premier League have diminished. They are four points behind Arsenal, and need more than just winning out in order to usurp Arsenal’s spot among the top 4.
The good thing for Liverpool is Everton playing a day before Arsenal, which means there’s nothing to totally crush their spirits and hopes of making it. There’s also Everton’s record at home this season: 13 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses. They beat Chelsea, drew with Liverpool and beat Arsenal convincingly. They have what it takes against the big clubs, at least when playing at home. They also need to worry about Manchester United at 6th and Tottenham at 5th, so their European goals don’t completely evaporate all of a sudden.
But the bad? Everton’s poor form: After an excellent run through most of march, they’ve lost two of their last three matches, including at home to Crystal Palace and 2-0 to Southampton this weekend. Manchester City have been slipping up here and there, but generally they seem to be the hotter team going into the match.
And then there’s the rivalry issue. For Liverpool, Manchester United are probably their most hated rivals. Manchester United fans feel the same, especially now that Liverpool seem to be on their way back up. Everton? Liverpool are the ones they hate, but there’s no doubt that years without titles and the Hillsborough disaster have somewhat quelled the fires in the derby. Maybe Everton do care more about their own success than ruining it for their city rivals.
The funny thing about the debate, is that even if Everton will give it their all in the hope of finishing among the top 4, it might not be enough. Manchester City are simply better.