The Merseyside Derby is considered one of the most heated and passionate derbies in football. The first of the season will take place at Anfield on Sunday and finds both teams are coming in on the back of wins. Liverpool have won five of their last six Premier League matches, scoring 19 goals in the process and are on the back of the dominant 7-0 thumping of Spartak Moscow in midweek.
In an exclusive interview, former Liverpool and England midfielder Danny Murphy gives Ask Fans his thoughts on playing in a derby match as well as playing for Liverpool in general.
Since sacking Ronald Koeman, Everton’s form has been very up and down, but the arrival has Sam Allardyce is threatening to spark a revival. In his first game in charge, Big Sam led his new side to a comprehensive 2-0 win over Huddersfield, which followed on from a dominant 4-0 win against West Ham, shortly before his arrival.
Everton travelled to Cyprus on Thursday for a Europa League fixture against Liverpool loanee, Allan Rodrigues and his adoptive club, Apollon Limassol. With Everton already out of the competition, several key players were rested, potentially with this fixture in mind, so fatigue may not play too much of an issue for the blue half of Merseyside.
These two sides have drawn each other in the Third Round of the FA Cup, with the tie due to take place in the first week of January. The match on Sunday will act as an interesting prelude and may lead the managers to consider which game is more valuable, when it comes to team selection.
Liverpool Team News
Simon Mignolet comes into this game, still having only conceded two goals at Anfield this Premier League season. However, the most recent of these came when Willian’s cross-cum-shot drifted harmlessly over Belgian’s head to secure a draw for Chelsea. Mignolet will be keen to make a point and Sunday and will be desperate to add another clean sheet to his collection.
With Joel Matip out for the rest of the calendar year, Liverpool’s defence may become more stretched as fixtures get congested over the festive period. I expect there to be no changes from Wednesday in the centre of defence though, with Dejan Lovren lining up with Ragnar Klavan alongside him and Joe Gomez in at right-back. On the left, Alberto Moreno was forced to be substituted just before half-time, after jarring his ankle blocking a Spartak shot. Jurgen Klopp has confirmed the Spaniard is a doubt for the weekend, so Andrew Robertson may be called upon to make only his fourth Premier League start of the season.
After being rested in midweek, Jordan Henderson will come back into the side and regain the captain’s armband from hat-trick hero, Philippe Coutinho. Henderson has come under some flack recently, with many questioning his capabilities as a Liverpool captain. Therefore, he will eager to prove his worth on one of the biggest stages for a leader. Finally, Georginio Wijnaldum will complete the midfield by returning to his familiar position. Wijnaldum was utilised as a centre-back against Brighton and honestly looked very out of place. He will be more than happy to return to his preferred stomping ground.
Jurgen Klopp will want his strongest side gunning for Everton, so the front three should remain unchanged. Mohamed Salah is still the Premier League’s top scorer with 12 and has netted a total of 17 times in all competitions this season. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane continue to be the dangerous players we all know they are, but have often prioritised assisting other players, over their own personal goal tallies.
Predicted Line Up: Mignolet; Robertson, Lovren, Klavan, Gomez; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Coutinho; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Everton Team News
With both sides already knocked out of the Europa League, Everton’s clash with Apollon Limassol saw major changes made for both teams. With no new injury concerns, Everton will be free to field a similar team to the one that confidently dispatched Huddersfield last weekend. Key players such as, Seamus Coleman, Yannick Bolasie and Ross Barkley are obviously still all out with long term fitness issues and Oumar Niasse is still a doubt as well.
Wayne Rooney will be fit as well and will be raring to go, especially after his treble a fortnight ago. Rooney has had a stiff rivalry with Liverpool his whole playing career, as Everton and Manchester United have been his only two professional clubs. The Reds will have to force their way past Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford, two player who were linked with Liverpool during the summer, if they are to find their way to a goal.
Predicted Line Up: Pickford; Martina, Keane, Williams, Kenny; Gueye; Sigurdsson, Rooney, Davies, Lennon; Calvart-Lewin.
The Merseyside Derby brings out the best in players, and no matter what their form has been like beforehand, they can often muster up special performances for the big occasion. However, all things considered I believe the pace and skill of Liverpool’s attack will be too much for a weakened Everton side to handle. The shouldn’t be able to stop the red train from rumbling on and I’m predicting a comprehensive 3-0 victory for the home side.