January 16, 2011, 07:25 IST – LIVE! on ESPN
Well, the derby is back! As much as Liverpool fans would not have liked to face Everton at this point of time, it could turn out to be the right moment for the players to react. Liverpool have lost their last two league encounters and sit 13th in the table. First the title, then the Champions League and now, Europe has become a distant dream! These are uncharted waters for the most decorated club in British football and it is indeed proving difficult to come out of!
Everton have an opportunity to hit the Reds under the belt. If Everton beat Liverpool on Sunday, it could send reality shivers down the spine of Liverpool fans; becoming a part of the relegation battle and getting that sinking feeling.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Liverpool will be without Gerrard and Carragher for Kenny Dalglish’s first home game in-charge! Joe Cole has recovered from his ankle injury and Fabio Aurelio is expected to make his way back into the team after missing out against Blackpool.
There are two problems with Liverpool players at the moment – they are making too many defensive errors and to compound those mistakes, they do not exhibit any ability to score and level the situation. Undoubtedly, it would be a tough call for the manager to inspire the players and re-inculcate the lost confidence. Had it been Roy Hodgson at the helm, it would have been easy to predict the kind of setup that Liverpool would fall into, but with Kenny Dalglish, it remains to be seen whether he would take a cautious approach or decide to attack Everton.
Midfield is the place to win a derby. With tackles flying in from every possible corner, winning the 50-50 challenges would be essential in keeping the possession. Having said that, Liverpool is expected to start with a five-man midfield to protect the defense from getting exposed and gain an extra advantage in the middle while breaking an attack.
Tim Cahill, the most successful derby player for Everton in the recent past, would be on international duty at the Asia Cup. David Moyes would need Saha and Beckford to rediscover their form, if he stands any chance to win at Anfield; something that he has failed to achieve in his previous eight attempts. Phil Jagielka will miss his third game in a row due to a thigh injury and Pienaar will be available even though he is expected to leave the club soon.
Mikel Arteta, Everton’s talisman in midfield, would again be the key in setting the tempo and breaking the attacks for the Toffees. If Everton take the game to Liverpool, it might just unsettle a team low on confidence and under immense pressure, especially at home.
Mikel Arteta has time and again proved to be the midfield talisman for Everton.
TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out For:
Raul Meireles (Liverpool)
This might seem like a peculiar choice but Meireles had a poor game against Blackpool. He will be itching for a good performance and his action-packed style will suit the derby atmosphere. If he gets going, Lucas will have less pressure to deliver and Liverpool could run the show. Meireles must bring Torres into the game.
Liverpool 2 -1 Everton – “May the fallen, rise again!”
Perfect setting for Kenny Dalglish to be jumping around passionately? He is a supporter first, and then a manager. If there is one person who will get his team pumped up for the derby, it is Kenny Dalglish. TheHardTackle predicts a narrow win and an electric game in store..