Liverpool host Everton as the Merseyside Derby takes place for the 238th time at Anfield this Saturday where the Reds will look to gain extra momentum by beating the Blues and climb up the league table.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were in fine form on Tuesday night as they excellently converted their chances and dominated the game against RB Leipzig. Klopp will now want to build on that professional performance against long-time rivals Everton.
The champions start this game in sixth place in the league table; Klopp will know a win here will give his Reds a huge morale boost in chasing down the pack above them. Everton are three points behind their Stanley Park neighbours and could end up level on points with Liverpool with a win.
Tightest Derby Game In Years
It looks like Liverpool’s title defence has suffered immensely due to the impact of the current injury crisis; City sit 16 points clear of the Reds and 10 clear of second place. To put that into perspective, there are only 10 points separating second and ninth place…
Liverpool are certainly in a dogfight for Champions League qualification with the rest of the remaining teams in the top half of the table.
There is no bigger Derby in the league than the one on Merseyside. It is the longest running top-flight derby in England. These are the games the Liverpool faithful look to when the fixtures are released.
Since the 1962 season this rivalry has been played consistently each year. It also holds the records for most red cards in Premier League history with 22 and counting…
Let the games begin!
Liverpool Team News
The biggest news to come out of the AXA Training Centre in Kirkby this week was the rumour that world-class shot-stopper Alisson Becker and the exciting, young Caoimhin Kelleher were absent from training on Thursday.
Whilst Liverpool fans were sent into a frenzy on social media Alisson and Kelleher were most likely indoors or having personalised training as both are fit for Saturday.
Fabinho was also reported not to be at training and has been unavailable following a muscle injury. Fabinho’s fitness is certainly a concern as the Brazilian has been stellar at the back for the majority of the season.
Klopp may not want to rush him back too soon now additional artillery arrived in January in the CB position.
Kabak Set To Start
Jordan Henderson and Ozan Kabak have been filling the ever-growing void at centre-back with the latter looking more confident and impressed in Hungary. Astonishingly, the Kabak/Henderson pairing is Liverpool’s 17th centre back partnership of the season.
Ozan Kabak will be thrown into the most fiery and ferocious game in the league this Saturday; if he can come through that inferno, he should be firmly established for the rest of the season.
The Turkish international will not be shy or inexperienced when it comes to derby-days. Kabak played for Galatasaray in a 2-2 draw against their bitter rivals Fenerbahçe in 2018 in the Istanbul derby. He has come through the fire before and the loan-star will be keen to inspire the Merseyside Reds.
The Return of Naby Keita
Liverpool were greeting with welcoming, and what is seemingly scarce, positive injury news this week! The return of the inexorable Naby Keita.
The Guinean has been out of action for 61 days since his ankle injury on December 20th, but he is closing in on a return to the match-day squad.
Liverpool have certainly missed his direct and tantalising dribbling skills when facing low-block teams. Whilst Keita may not be able to catch a break in terms of injuries, there is no doubting The Reds are a better team with him in the starting XI.
In the league Liverpool have picked up 18 points when Keita has featured out of a possible 21. They have also scored a total of 25 goals in seven games.
Klopp has said Keita is fit in terms of his previous injury. Liverpool have taken their time rehabbing Naby-lad so he can play an integral part for Liverpool in the closing months. Klopp has also said however, whilst he is fit, he is not yet match fit. The clubs physios have worked hard on Keita and getting minutes will now be vital in terms of his full recovery.
James Milner was not part of the matchday squad in Budapest and remains unavailable to feature this weekend.
Whilst his experience and work-rate will be missed, Gini Wijnaldum, Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri and the maturing and enthusing Curtis Jones will all be available for selection.
The Front Three
Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah both found their scoring boots in the Champions League last 16 win and will want to capitalise on any momentum. Roberto Firmino controlled the front line well and ushered defenders around at his whim and is set to play his 200th PL game.
The front three will need to be on form this time around against The Toffees if all three points are going to be accumulated. Diogo Jota is still out through injury.
On Tuesday, Mo Salah drew level on goals with the legend Ian St. John, scoring his 118th goal for The Reds. Next up on his list to surpass is inside-forward Dick Forshaw who notched an impressive 123 goals in 288 games. Forshaw won 2 league titles; one in 1921/22 and again in the 1922/23 season, a feat Mo Salah will also want to equal.
Everton Team News
The biggest story to come out of Goodison Park is the fitness of their own star striker, Dominic Calvert-Lewin. DCL has missed the last few games due to injury but Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti in confident he will play some part.
DCL is looking to match Romelu Lukaku’s record of nine away goals in a single PL season. A feat only the Belgian has achieved in Everton’s modern history.
Brazilian midfielder Allan, who has been unavailable since 16th December, is also deemed fit to play a part on Saturday.
Every derby you play against Liverpool, you want to win. It’s a long time that Everton won a derby. Is it the right time tomorrow? It could be.Toffees Boss, Carlo Ancelotti
Yerry Mina and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin are not available, with the latter not expected back until next month.
Everton have beaten Liverpool only nine times in the Premier League era and 66 times overall in their history. The Toffees now however, have their most accomplished manager in their history in Don Carlo.
Ancelotti boasts a Champions League Final victory over The Reds in 2006 with his AC Milan team. He was also in charge of them in the 2005 final…
The Impact of Don Carlo
Everton have found themselves with deep pockets financially in recent times. It could be said that this current Blues team is perhaps one of the most impressively assembled squad their PL history.
Over the past ten transfer windows Everton have spent over £570m and currently sit with the third highest net spend in the league.
There is no doubt some of that money has been spent irresponsibly but Ancelotti has found a way to bring out the best in his players . The performances at Goodison Park are improving under his guidance.
The former Real Madrid boss will know it is 21 long years since Blue beat Red at Anfield. Twenty-three meetings in all competitions have passed since Everton beat Liverpool anywhere.
A manager like Carlo helps each team in the world. It was clear beforehand, he has a very good squad, a very good team.Jurgen Klopp on Carlo Ancelotti
Liverpool are unbeaten in the past 23 meetings in all competitions against Everton (W11, D12). It’s the longest run without defeat against an opponent in their history.
This is the most drawn fixture in Premier League history, with 24 matches ending level.
The Reds have only twice endured four Premier League defeats in a row: September 1993 and November to December 2002. A loss on Saturday will make that three!
Liverpool could lose four home league matches in succession for only the second time in their history, having done so only once in 1923-24.
Everton are unbeaten in seven Premier League away matches (W5, D2). They can equal the club record of eight without defeat, achieved in 2010 and again in 2016.
Everton’s current 20-match winless streak against Liverpool in the top flight is their worst against a single opponent.
Jurgen Klopp and his Reds will feel they have demons to vanquish after the contentious 1-1 result in the reverse of this fixture this season.
Jordan Pickford will be a happy man knowing that the Anfield crowd will not be thereafter it was his wreckless mistake that put Van Dijk on the sidelines for the duration of the season.
A week later, two or three when we got the diagnosis for Virgil van Dijk, it is good we didn’t play Everton straight away again, let me say it like this.Jurgen Klopp on the VVD injury
Sadio Mane also may have a point to prove; Mane was subjectively ruled offside in a late Jordan Henderson winner.
This is the biggest Derby in recent history and one where the winner either draws level on points, or starts to pull away.
This is known as the ‘Friendly Derby’ but it will be anything but come Saturday. Two wonderful managers are on display in the Reds empty stadium and should Liverpool become victorious, you would fancy them to maintain a consistent run of form after a poor period.
It is the biggest Derby in English football: Liverpool vs Everton, Red vs Blue. Families will become divided; friendships will be tested… are you ready?
Up the Reds. YNWA