It’s been just over three years since Everton got their last win over Liverpool, something that has happened only four times over the last 14 years. The Merseyside derby usually goes to the red side no matter the venue, although the scoring form of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge might not be the deciding factor in this encounter.
Liverpool head into the match with a chance to grab the top spot in the league if Arsenal screw up against Southampton. However, Everton are only three points behind them in the Premier League table, being the only team along with Southampton to lose just once this season. However, they have picked up five draws, and struggle to score at times if Romelu Lukaku isn’t at his best or there are no set pieces for Leighton Baines to make a meal of.
Last year both matches between the sides ended in draws. Liverpool finished behind Everton in the table, but their dominance against David Moyes prevailed even in the matches when they were the inferior team. A referee decision going their way in Goodison Park (they usually don’t), and it would have been a big 3-2 win over their rivals, and maybe changing the final scenario of the season.
Lukaku scored twice against Liverpool last season while playing for West Brom, so it’s going to take more than just the marking of one defender to stop the Belgian striker. The other source of danger Everton provide usually comes from Kevin Mirallas and Leighton Baines, meaning Jordan Henderson will be at his utmost defensive mode on one side and Lucas will probably drift to which ever side Mirallas plays on.
For Liverpool, it’s always about the creativity of Suarez, which can’t be completely negated and quelled. Brendan Rodgers has sinned in the past when travelling away from home by going too defensive, but he’s probably learned from that mistake after too many unpleasant attempts. Liverpool are a strong first half team, and putting their foot to the pedal right from the start is the way to counter Everton’s aggressive nature, although they have been turning into other styles recently.
It’ll be interesting to see if the most violent encounter in the Premier League (20 red cards in 42 matches) will keep the peace, as we haven’t seen a sending off since Jack Rodwell, rotting away at Manchester City, was sent off in the Goodison Park derby of October 2011.
Prediction – Liverpool have more attacking quality, but a lot depends on Rodgers not feeling scared and defensive. If the two teams play man to man, Liverpool will make it six undefeated derbies in a row. A cautious approach means Roberto Martinez has a wonderful debut for a Merseyside derby.