On Saturday lunch time, Liverpool will face Everton in the 235th Merseyside derby in what is being billed as the most eagerly anticipated match up since both sides’ era of domination in the 80s.
It will be Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton that go into the match as slight favourites, topping the Premiership table after four matches and having won seven in all competitions.
Liverpool meanwhile, are still licking their wounds following the shock 7-2 thrashing at Villa Park at the hands of Dean Smith’s Aston Villa.
The international break has given Liverpool’s players some time away from Melwood to reflect, but manager Jurgen Klopp will be keen to put the ghosts of that defeat to rest with an improved performance against their fierce rivals.
What went wrong against Villa?
No doubt Klopp endured some sleepless nights after his side conceded a whopping seven goals, the first time the club has done so since 1963, so fixing those defensive issues is paramount if Liverpool want to win against a steely defensive unit built in Ancelotti’s image.
Goalkeeper Adrian, defenders Trent Alexander Arnold, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk had a torrid game and their concentration levels need to be much higher if they are to contain Everton’s attacking threat of James Rodriguez, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, with the England striker the joint top scorer in the Premier League with six goals in three matches.
Ball retention was a problem against Villa, and Liverpool’s midfield must improve their passing and pressing game if they are to combat’s Everton’s new midfield formation of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucouré and James, with former Barcelona star André Gomes pulling the strings.
Having succumbed to the Coronavirus, Thiago Alcântara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Sadio Mane, have all returned to full training and are back in contention to start against the Toffees.
Although, now midfielder Naby Keïta has contracted the virus whilst on international duty with Guinea and is definitely out.
Goalkeeper Alisson remains on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
Otherwise the Liverpool boss has a near fully strength team to choose from and can welcome back Cameroon centre-half, Joel Matip, to his matchday squad following a muscle injury.
Klopp and Liverpool supporters will no doubt be wary to the threats this modern Everton side possess. Calvert-Lewin is high on confidence after scoring on his England debut against Wales last week. The 23-year-old is good in the air, can score with both feet and has the strength to hold the ball up and outmuscle defenders. He is arguably Everton’s biggest threat.
The audacious 20 million capture of Colombia’s James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, appears to be a very astute signing. Having worked with him previously, Ancelotti knew exactly what he was getting, but he probably didn’t think he would be this good.
The playmaker has added a new dimension to Everton’s attack and is another player Liverpool will need to keep a close eye on.
The Barça alumni of Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne, are good in the air and lethal at free-kicks respectively, so both will need to be contained this weekend.
Social media build-up:
Liverpool’s James Milner, Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane have all posted to Instagram ahead of the big clash.
Liverpool supporters will be hoping for a derby win and to claim the bragging rights. However, Goodison Park has been a tricky place for Klopp’s side the past couple of seasons, so I am going to forecast an entertaining 2-2 draw.