Even on bad years, Liverpool usually do well against Everton in the Merseyside derby, at least in recent years, as David Moyes takes his team with a eight place advantage in the Premier League table over their city rivals, heading into the encounter as favorites; something that doesn’t happen too often.
But that’s been the situation over the last couple of seasons. Liverpool can’t find consistency on the pitch or in the manager position and for Moyers, it’ll be the fifth Liverpool manager he faces during his tenure at Goodison Park. In that time, he has managed only four wins against the Reds, three in the league. Last season, despite Everton finishing above Liverpool, it was a double for the Reds, who won 2-0 at Goodison Park thanks to a Rodwell red card that was later rescinded and a Steven Gerrard show, scoring the first derby hat trick since 1982, leading Liverpool to a 3-0 win.
And there was also the FA Cup semifinal, in which Everton once again proved their inferiority complex against a team that has struggled all through 2012, losing 1-2. When their players see red, Liverpool red, something switches off and they stop playing football, most of the time.
This season? Favorites again, although the absence of Steven Pienaar might be crucial for a team that’s dependent on the dribbling and passing skills of the South African. Their best player, Marouane Fellaini, might play, although he still hasn’t fully recovered from his back injury. Fellaini, if you haven’t been following, has been their best player this season and one of the top performers early on in the Premier League season.
Everton have lost only one match this season, back on September 1 to West Brom. But they have failed to win these past two weeks against inferior teams, finishing in draws against Wigan and QPR on away matches. Their last win over Liverpool was at home two years ago, but both scorers, Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, are long gone.
How are things at Anfield?The wins are starting to pile up. The ability still isn’t satisfying, and scoring goals is a big problem when there’s only one actual scoring threat. Still, Liverpool haven’t lost a league match in three consecutive outings and possibly even more importantly, haven’t conceded in three consecutive matches, including the Champions League.
Everything that happens near the box has to do with Luis Suarez, and Rodgers needs the Uruguayan at his most focused in a fiery match that often turns into more of a battle than just a football game, with red cards easily drawn out, mostly for good reason. Beyond Suarez, Liverpool need someone to step up and try to be a viable option from the second wave. Sterling if he tries to shoot instead of dribble once in a while, or Steven Gerrard and whoever plays alongside him in the midfield (probably Sahin).
Everton’s stability and consistency in the style and personnel has put them in a position to gain some supremacy in the city after what seems like forever. But bad things begin happening just as they go in to a match that might cement the change in direction this rivalry might take. A draw, which hasn’t happened in Goodison Park since 2000, seems like the right result.