After a three-month hiatus, the Premier League is back and Liverpool – champions-elect Liverpool – face Merseyside rivals Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday evening; 7:00pm UK time.
This, on paper, is a mismatch. David versus Goliath if you like. The Reds – who have won twenty-seven out of twenty-nine – are a mammoth forty-five points ahead of the blues, who have mustered just ten league victories all season. Yes, just ten.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are on the verge of history: a first league title in thirty years, whereas all Carlo Ancelloti can hope for is a top-ten finish following a horrendous start under Marco Silva.
In the reverse fixture, Liverpool brushed Everton aside 5-2 but Sunday promises to be cagy – that’s if history is anything to go by.
Indeed, since the turn of the decade, the champions of Europe have recorded just two victories at Goodison, drawing seven and losing one. The one loss was at the backend of the Roy Hodgson era, so don’t read too much into that one, hey Reds… *wink, wink*
That said, Liverpool will have to be as good as they can possibly be. The 6-0 win over Blackburn in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week suggests the Reds are in pretty good nick though.
But form goes out the window in derbies such as this (if indeed form is at all relevant given the circumstances). And, of course, Everton are still littered with big-name players names; Richarlison, Gomes and Digne included. So there’s certainly no room for complacency.
Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson, as widely reported, have minor knocks. However, Jurgen Klopp provided a fitness update ahead of the Merseyside derby and confirmed he has the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Liverpool’s number one Alisson Becker will be back in net having missed the last three games – the last being the Champions League RO16 second-leg defeat at Anfield in March.
Andre Gomes – after a long layoff – is set to return to the Everton starting lineup. While the Blues continue to assess the progress of Fabian Delph and Yerry Mina, forward Theo Walcott faces at least three weeks on the sidelines following abdominal surgery last week.
Everton players will be fired up to prove a point to their manager – and indeed fans – after Chelsea blew them away 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on March 8th in what was a dismal display. Reds fans will be hoping for more of the same… *crosses fingers*
Games between Liverpool and Everton at Goodison Park are always nitty-gritty, tight affairs. Added to that, the Reds have struggled against Carlo Ancelloti’s Napoli sides in the Champions League in recent years.
But one of the Italian’s first game in charge of the Toffees was the Merseyside derby in the FA Cup in January. Remember that? The game in which Liverpool’s kids ran a mock? A game in which Curtis Jones slots one home from thirty yards? Ring any bells? The inference is this: Liverpool love beating Everton, whatever the circumstances.
So Liverpool are obvious favourites. Klopp’s Red machine have amassed 82 points from a possible 87; unprecedented numbers. And they still have a chance of beating the all-time points record of 100 set by City in 2017-18. In fact, they can smash it. If they win all nine of the remaining fixtures, they will have accumulated 109.
Liverpool: Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk Andy Robertson; Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino.
Everton: Jordan Pickford; Djibril Sidibe, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne; Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph, Glyfi Sigurdsson; Bernard, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.