Liverpool – Everton (Premier League)
Tuesday night Premier League returns with Merseyside Derby Part II. Always thrilling. And I dare say the 3 points won’t be the biggest issue here, even if a single one separates Liverpool from Everton at the table. Well, that and Spurs. Anyway, it will be about local rivalry and the right to gloat, or not, for weeks or months to come. That is priceless.
The Reds are 4th in the Premier League table with 43 points, level in points with Tottenham right behind them. One clear of their fellow Merseysiders and next opposition. So this could be the hottest derby in years. Liverpool have the numbers on their side. The club hasn’t lost a clash with the Toffees since 2010, that’s seven in all competitions.
Liverpool has been impressive this season under Brendan Rodgers. It’s fair to say they have gone beyond every expectation we all had at the beginning of the season. Particularly at home. They record is 9 victories for 11 ties at Anfield Road. Even more overwhelming his the score board: 29 goals in those 11 home games. Luis Suárez is Premier League’s top scorer and before Sturridge was injured the two of them were terrorizing defences all over. The English international is getting back to form and it will be exciting to see that partnership rekindle.
January’s theme is, no doubt, the transfer window. The buzz of new signings and who to trade dominates every flash interview. Is easy to forget this is a bad time to do business. A lot of names were associated with Liverpool’s interest but so far none were confirmed. Salah was high-jacked to Chelsea and apparently Liverpools’ Manager flipped towards 19-year-old Spaniard Saul Niguez, a young talent that can play either as defensive or attacking midfielder tied to Atletico Madrid. Recently Brendan Rodgers urged on-lone Victor Moses to step up to earn a permanent transfer to the Reds. His performance against Bournemouth certainly made a difference. We’ll wait and see in this last week.
Mamadou Sakho is still two to three weeks away from returning to the pitch. Joe Allen’s fitness status will be accessed prior to the match. He’s needed but Rodgers won’t risk him unless is more than clear. The team can’t afford another man down. Daniel Agger, Sebastián Coates, Jose Enrique, Lucas Leiva and Glen Johnson are quite enough, thank you.
Probable line-up: Mignolet — Kelly, Skrtel, Touré, Cissokho — Gerrard, Henderson — Sterling, Suárez, Courinho — Sturridge.
Everton has been having an amazing season in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez hit the ground running and skipped the whole adaptation period thing. He got the team playing good football, and an effective one two. So far the Toffees have only two losses all season. They were defeated at the Etihad — who wasn’t? — and fell to Sunderland on Boxing Day. They also have the best defence away from home, 11 goals conceded in as many matches.
Bryan Oviedo, Seamus Coleman, Darron Gibson, Arouna Koné and Ross Barkley are ruled out due to injury. Steven Pienaar and Gerard Deulafeu could be in contention.
Probable line-up: Howard — Stones, Jagielka, Distin, Baines — McCarthy, Barry — Mirallas, Osman, McGeady — Lukaku.
The Liverpool vs Everton derby is about a lot more than points, but both side crave them too. A spot in next season’s Champions League is what is at stake here, and the inherent millions. Whomever loses on Sunday will take a major step back in Premier League as well, a fight that is ever so tight. At the end of the year Liverpool found themselves atop of the table and three weeks later they risk losing touch with the top three. Even worse, they would be leapfrogged by the Roberto Martinez’s side, and possibly Spurs too. Talk about bring rivalry up a notch to the next level!