Liverpool will be aiming to return to the top of the Premier League table when they face Everton in the 200th top-flight Merseyside derby on Sunday.
Gameweek 29 of the 2018-19 Premier League season will end with a Derby Day double header, with all the focus being on the 284th edition of the Merseyside derby. Liverpool will travel to Goodison Park on Sunday evening, hoping to return to the summit of the Premier League table with another resounding performance.
Everton have continued to be unable to settle down under Marco Silva, who has been under intense pressure lately – the Toffees have won just five of their last 17 games. But, after being afforded a 17-day break, the Merseysiders looked rejuvenated upon their return to action, as they eased past Cardiff City in a 3-0 win.
Everton though, are still lagging in the race for seventh, which ought to be the final Europa League slot. Liverpool, on the other hand, have also gone through a period of stutter, with the turn of the year not being kind to their form. The Reds have won just four of the 10 games they have played in 2019, only managing to convince in victories over Bournemouth and Watford.
The emphatic win over the Hornets though, suggests an upturn in form at the right time for Liverpool, especially with the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich beckoning. Another such performance will also be key in returning to the top of the table whilst boosting their goal difference following Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday.
The reverse fixture, played at Anfield in December, saw Liverpool prevailing in a 1-0 win, courtesy an injury time winner by Divock Origi, which proceeded the infamous mistake by Jordan Pickford. Ahead of the 200th top-flight Merseyside derby, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Marco Silva does not have many pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations for the visit of Liverpool. On Sunday, the Everton boss will be without just one first-team player, with veteran full-back Leighton Baines recovering from a minor back injury.
In fact, Silva has greeted more good news than bad ahead of the Merseyside derby, with two centre-backs making themselves available to face Liverpool. Kurt Zouma is back after serving a one-match ban, following his bizarre dismissal in the aftermath of the 1-0 loss to Watford.
The other player who has returned for Everton is Yerry Mina, who has recovered from a foot injury. Zouma and Mina will contest for one slot at the heart of the defence, with the former likely to get the nod to partner Michael Keane. The backline will be completed by the usual suspects out wide Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman.
In addition to keeping the Liverpool wide men in check, the full-backs will also have the responsibility to create a large chunk of chances in the final third with their deliveries from the flanks. The creative onus though, will chiefly be on the able shoulders of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Icelandic playmaker’s slump in form coincided with that of his own side, and his performance will be key in getting Everton any points on Sunday. Sigurdsson though, will also look towards the runners on either side, Richarlison and Theo Walcott, both of whom need to step up. Dominic Calvert-Lewin will lead the line for the Toffees.
In midfield, Idrissa Gueye is a certain starter, especially with the uncertainties surrounding his future being well in the past now. Gueye’s partner in the middle of the park could yet again be Morgan Schneiderlin, after the former Manchester United man impressed against Cardiff. The spotlight, meanwhile, will also be on Jordan Pickford, following his howler in the reverse fixture.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gueye, Schneirderlin; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin
Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh issues to deal with ahead of the short trip to face local rivals Everton. On Sunday, the Liverpool boss is only likely to be without three first-team players, with the major cause for concern being the fitness of Roberto Firmino.
Klopp gave a positive update on the Brazilian forward during his pre-match press conference, although the player is set to face a late fitness test to determine his availability. Judging by the Liverpool manager’s comments, chances are Firmino will be fit to face Everton on Sunday.
Those who will miss out for the Reds though, are Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Joe Gomez (leg) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with each player likely to return some time this month. In the absence of Gomez and Lovren, however, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk will continue as the central defensive partnership.
There are unlikely to be any changes for the two full-back slots either, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson making for the supply line for Liverpool – the duo provided the assists for all five goals against Watford between them. Alisson Becker should continue in goal for the visitors as well, ahead of his first taste of an away Merseyside derby.
The shuffles could come into effect in midfield, with captain Jordan Henderson expected to return, lining up as the deepest lying midfielder for his side. Naby Keita could be back as well, with Georginio Wijnaldum the only player retaining his spot.
Up ahead in attack, Firmino ought to return, if fit, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane being certain starters out wide. Mane has been played in a fluid role lately that has seen him play as the striker for large chunks of the game and the Senegalese should reprise the same once again, with Firmino switching slots with him during the course of the game.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
1. Liverpool to win @ 1.61
2. Liverpool Clean Sheet – YES @ 2.20
1. Under 1.5 Match Goals @ 3.75
- Sunday’s contest will be the 200th top-flight meeting between Everton and Liverpool, becoming only the second fixture to have been played that many times in the top English league after Aston Villa vs Everton (202).
- Everton are winless in their last 18 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions (D9 L9), their longest ever such run against their local rivals.
- But, despite remaining unbeaten in their last 16 top-flight games against Everton, Liverpool are looking to do the Premier League double over the Toffees for just the third time in the last eight seasons (also in 2011-12 and 2016-17).
- Premier League meetings between Everton and Liverpool have produced more red cards than any other fixture in the history of the competition (21).
- Liverpool have conceded fewer away goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (8).
Player to Watch
Marco Silva has undergone a trial by fire, with the players taking their time to get used to his tactics, which have also been confusing at times. But, one superstar who has been carrying the torch for the Everton boss is Gylfi Sigurdsson, often inspiring results on his own.
The Iceland international though, has also gone through his period of slump, but after scoring a brace against Cardiff City, there are signs of a turnaround in form. Now primed for his most prolific Premier League campaign (he already has 11 goals to his name), Sigurdsson will be the man who will be looked upon for inspiration against a solid Liverpool side.
The Reds are one of the 29-year-old’s favourite opponents, with the player scoring four goals and assisting one against them. And another superlative effort could script the tale for a memorable derby win. A big game beckons on Sunday for Sigurdsson and Everton.
Everton 1-2 Liverpool
Just ten games remain between Liverpool and history. But, with Manchester City winning by the slimmest of margins on Saturday, the Reds are back to second on the Premier League table. The pressure will be on Jurgen Klopp’s men to continue keeping pace with their title rivals and they cannot afford to slip.
This pressure means Everton could be in with a chance to produce a shock result, especially after showing a lot of fluency in the final third against Cardiff City. But, with all due respect to the Bluebirds, Liverpool are on a completely different level, and the gulf in quality ought to make all the difference in the end.
Expect Gylfi Sigurdsson to trouble the Liverpool defence at times. But, with Sadio Mane in menacing form, Liverpool should do enough to grab all three points. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Jurgen Klopp & co. that should see them return to the Premier League summit.