It’s a Merseyside derby in the third round of the FA Cup as Liverpool and Everton both look to taste success in the premier cup competition.
Liverpool managed to eke out a 2-1 win over Burnley and ideally, are in good form and shape to take the game to Everton. The match could also prove to be Virgil van Dijk’s debut in a Liverpool shirt. Add to it the home advantage, and Jurgen Klopp will be eager to progress to the next round at the cost of their local rivals.
Everton, on the other hand, have steadied their ship to a large extent. But, a defeat to Manchester United saw the Toffees extend their winless run to four games now. Sam Allardyce will be looking to add to his attack in January. For the match against Liverpool, Big Sam would hope his current options do the trick.
Their last encounter at Anfield ended in a 1-1 draw, with Mohamed Salah’s opener being canceled out by Wayne Rooney’s penalty conversion. Ahead of their FA Cup tie on Friday, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
A highly rotated Liverpool side managed to win over Burnley. Hence, for the Merseyside derby, we could see Joel Matip return to the lineup. But, he could have a new partner by his side, with Virgil van Dijk officially a Liverpool player now. Andrew Robertson should return to guard the left side of defence, with Joe Gomez likely to be preferred over Trent Alexander-Arnold on the other side.
Sadio Mane is a doubt for the game as well, which could see Jurgen Klopp retain his temporary 4-2-3-1 formation for a while. James Milner could enter the midfield to partner either Emre Can or Georginio Wijnaldum in front of the defence while we could see Adam Lallana start back-to-back games in a Liverpool shirt in a long time.
Philippe Coutinho, too, seems to have played his last game for Liverpool and is unlikely to be selected for the game, with talks of his impending move to Barcelona gathering pace.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Roberto Firmino should make up the numbers on either side of Lallana, with Klopp likely to put his faith in Dominic Solanke.
The 4-2-3-1 formation did see Klopp compromise in the naturally fluid play and smooth transition from defence to attack. But, it did seem to provide a bit more stability in defence. Hence, it would be interesting to see how the formation works, especially with the addition of van Dijk.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum; Firmino, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Solanke
Big Sam’s injury issues have eased up. But, his struggles to find the right frontman to lead his attack seems to continue. Oumar Niasse put on a very flat display against Manchester United and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s introduction did not seem to have much of an effect either. We could very well see Sandro Ramirez being handed a chance on Friday to prove his worth to Allardyce.
Jonjoe Kenny should return to the back-four in what could be the only change in defence from the one that leaked two goals past them against Manchester United. Michael Keane did require stitches against Manchester United though, and could be rested, with Phil Jagielka coming into the lineup.
Idrissa Gueye will also be an automatic selection for the match if fit in time, with Morgan Schneiderlin likely to partner him in midfield. Gylfi Sigurdsson was another player rested against United and should return to the left side of the three-man attacking midfield. Wayne Rooney should keep his place, with Aaron Lennon on the right.
Big Sam is likely to set up his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation to absorb pressure, with Wayne Rooney entrusted with the task of leading the transition from absorbing pressure to putting on some on the other end. Everton will look to earn free-kicks and corners in order to enable Sigurdsson and his mastery in dead-ball situations.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Kenny, Jagielka, Williams, Martina; Gueye, Schneiderlin; Lennon, Rooney, Sigurdsson; Ramirez
1. Liverpool are on their joint-longest unbeaten streak against Everton in all competitions (15).
2. Liverpool have not failed to progress past the third round of the FA Cup since a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford in January, 2011.
3. In spite of their flailing defence, Liverpool have kept clean sheets in 50% of their last six home games against Everton in all competitions.
4. Wayne Rooney is Everton’s current leading goalscorer, with the veteran hitting a fine vein of form – 11 goals in 26 appearances.
5. Virgil van Dijk is yet to be on the losing side when playing against Everton. (W2 D1)
Player to Watch
The spotlight will be on Virgil van Dijk and his first outing in a Liverpool shirt, if Klopp does hand him a start. But, all Everton eyes will be on Sandro Ramirez and his ability to test the Liverpool defence on Friday. Big Sam is likely to reinforce his attack in January. But, the Spaniard could remind the manager of another option at his disposal with a credible performance in FA Cup.
Liverpool 1-2 Everton
The stage is set for Virgil van Dijk’s debut, that too at home against fierce local rivals Everton. But, we believe the former Southampton man could be in for a surprise – and certainly not a pleasant one – on Friday. With Salah and Mane both out, we could see Liverpool struggle to put goals past Jordan Pickford.
Ramirez, Sigurdsson and Rooney should be more effective than the Liverpool attack. We expect Everton to test Liverpool, with a goal or two coming from dead-ball situations. A narrow win for the blue half of Merseyside.