January 28, 2014; 20:00 GMT
The last time Liverpool played local rivals Everton in the Premier League, it turned out to be arguably the most entertaining Merseyside Derby in recent times. Just as in the 3-3 draw at Goodison Park in November, there seems to be little to choose from between the two sides.
Liverpool go into this game having negotiated the Christmas season with barely enough players to keep the squad afloat. Despite having no brought anyone into the side this transfer window, the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen coming back into the side after injuries suffered in December would be a big boost to the squad. Everton, on the other hand, finished 2013 on the up – with impressive wins at Manchester United and Swansea. They have continued to score points against teams in the bottom half of the table and remain outside contenders for a spot in the Top 4.
Despite getting out of jail at home against Aston Villa last weekend, Liverpool go into this game sitting in 4th place with a total of 43 points. Everton had the benefit of playing on a Monday, but they failed to seize the opportunity to break into the Top 4 once again – instead, they sit 1 point behind Liverpool in 6th ahead of their visit to Anfield.
Team News and Tactics
It took Brendan Rodgers 45 minutes against Aston Villa to see that playing captain Steven Gerrard out of position in a two-man central midfield was not going to work, and remedied the same 45 minutes in. He has since admitted that sending an attack-minded eleven to the pitch was a mistake, but will face another selection dilemma given that Lucas Leiva became the 18th Liverpool player to enter a game as a substitute only to be substituted himself.
Joe Allen made his first appearance in 2014 coming in for Lucas, and he is one of the only three legitimate central midfielders Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal. Due to Coutinho’s lack of form, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is likely to keep him on the bench and send out a 4-3-3. Luis Suarez had a great record playing predominantly on the left of a front three at Ajax with Klaas Jan Huntelaar up front; so Rodgers might be tempted to try that out.
The last time Liverpool made the trip across Stanley Park, Rodgers had just announced that Jose Enrique would be out of action due to surgery to rectify a nagging knee problem. Fast forward two months and he is still yet to return. His replacement Jon Flanagan has also joined him on the treatment table, while vice-captain Daniel Agger and the influential Lucas Leiva are currently out injured at this point in time. Brendan Rodgers’ statement that there were only 15 first-team players at training before the away trip to Bournemouth for the FA Cup sounds quite scary, but Liverpool once had a still smaller squad a year ago and have progressed since then.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Kelly, Skrtel, Sakho, Cissokho; Allen, Gerrard, Henderson; Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has done a commendable job this season in building on the foundations laid down by current Manchester United manager David Moyes. Everton had a great December, successfully stretching their unbeaten home record for 2013 a Goodison Park until Boxing Day.
However, the Toffees’ efforts at strengthening the squad have been thwarted thus far in January. They have sealed the loan signing of AS Monaco’s 6ft 8in centre forward Lacina Traore from Anzhi Makachkala.
Ross Barkley is currently Everton’s biggest casualty due to injury at this point in time. The Premier League’s in-form right back Seamus Coleman has just joined him on the treatment table but could well make an appearance at Anfield. Otherwise, the 19 year old John Stones will fill in at right back.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Osman, McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Lukaku, Pienaar
- Liverpool have scored at least 2 goals in their last 8 home matches in the 2013-14 Premier League.
- Out of the 53 goals that Liverpool have scored thus far in the Premier League this season, 18 have come from set pieces.
- Everton are undefeated in 14 of their last 15 matches in the Premier League.
(Courtesy whoscored.com and squawka)
Player To Watch
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Daniel Sturridge famously talked about how Everton supporting Tesco employees threatened that they would refuse service at their stores if he scored in the Merseyside Derby. Having just come off a 90 minute appearance for England against Germany, manager Brendan Rodgers benched him on the grounds of him not being fit enough to perform in training.
Sturridge did come off the bench to rescue a point for Liverpool that day. Having come back from a six week long layoff due to the injury he suffered early in December, it is imperative that he supports Luis Suarez consistently during the rest of the season in terms of goalscoring, if the Reds wish to keep scoring points that would take them to the Top 4 by the end of the season. Another goal or two against the Toffees might force Daniel Sturridge to go shopping elsewhere, but it would be of no convenience to Liverpool and their supporters.
Liverpool 2-2 Everton
With Liverpool’s start strike force of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge being backed up by a deep but leaky defence, Liverpool supporters can be rest assured of goals in this game.
Everton, on the other hand, do not have a very deep reserve in defence, but the ones who play have been fit and putting on consistent performances. But due to the fact that the form book goes out of the window every time the Merseyside Derby comes calling, there should be little to choose between the two sides at Anfield.
Blast From The Past