Everton can beat Liverpool in Saturday’s Merseyside derby
The Toffees have a miserable record in recent times against their city rivals but the timing of this fixture offers them hope.
Since the turn of the millennium, Everton’s record in Merseyside derbies has provided grim reading for Bluenoses.
In 40 encounters across the 21st Century, they have won only three and have not tasted victory in any of the past 16 clashes. However, there are reasons for optimism for the Toffees ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Firstly, Liverpool are bang in the middle of their most two important fixtures of the season. Only six days separate Jurgen Klopp’s side’s matches against Manchester City, both of which will be energy-sapping matches.
Everton, on the other hand, have a week either side of the derby to prepare tactically and to exert their full focus into the encounter.
Absentees pile up for Liverpool
The Reds will be wary of resting players for the clash at Goodison Park but they also have a growing number of absentees.
Cameroonian central defender Joel Matip will not feature again this season and he joins Joe Gomez on the side-lines for the Reds.
Adam Lallana is another absentee in midfield while top scorer Mohamed Salah’s presence on Saturday is also in jeopardy after he limped off in Wednesday’s victory.
It may well be a case that Klopp rotates further, with only Jordan Henderson a guaranteed starter after his booking at Anfield ruled him out of the return leg in Europe.
It could be the case on Saturday that the visitors field a relatively experimental line-up.
Expect it to go close
A glance at the recent record between these two at Goodison Park suggests these fixtures are often exceptionally close.
Four of the last five meetings have ended in stalemates while the only Liverpool victory since 2011 arrived last season with Sadio Mane’s winner deep into stoppage time at the end of the match.
Furthermore, Sam Allardyce is a coach who has a respectable record in his meetings with Jurgen Klopp.
His Everton side picked up a point in December’s league meeting at Anfield and the following month they were edged out in an FA Cup encounter, but the Toffees could consider themselves a little unfortunate in that meeting.
Last season, Big Sam guided Crystal Palace to a 2-1 victory at Anfield and the season before that, his Sunderland side fought back from two goals down to rescue a point against Klopp’s men. Allardyce is capable of exposing weaknesses in Liverpool, usually from set pieces and defending cohesively as a unit.
Furthermore, Everton have won three of their past four home matches with their only loss coming at the hands of Manchester City, while Liverpool’s recent flaws have been exposed away from home. Their loss at Old Trafford was followed up by an unconvincing win at Palace last week.
Everton may still be underdogs for this clash, but they will see it’s timing as an opportune moment to end their barren run in this fixture and earn a degree of bragging rights over their city rivals.
Who do you think goes into this match as favourites? Let us know by commenting below.