Liverpool will hope to get back to winning ways when they travel to Goodison Park to take on high-flyers Everton in the first Merseyside Derby of the season.
The season has started spectacularly for Everton after a tremendous summer transfer window. The Evertonian board made sure Carlo Ancelotti’s demands were met as they signed James Rodriguez, Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Robin Olsen, and Ben Godfrey as headlining deals for the season.
Rodriguez and Allan’s brilliance coupled with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s rise to prominence has pushed Everton into top spot of the Premier League table, with four wins out of four and the joint-highest goals scored in the league (12). Tomorrow, however, they will have to forget the successes of the last four gameweeks as they take on city rivals Liverpool at the Goodison Park.
It would be fair to say that Liverpool have not managed to carry on the momentum from last season into the new campaign, which was visible on the first gameweek itself as they took on newcomers Leeds United at the Anfield. Marcelo Bielsa’s side hit three past the Red’s defence but returned home with no points to show for it. That game, however, showed multiple warning signs for Jurgen Klopp.
Before the international break, their weaknesses were exploited to its core by none other than Aston Villa who scored an astonishing SEVEN goals past Liverpool, conceding just two. Ollie Watkins, who was playing his third ever game in the Prem bagged a hattrick while Jack Grealish ended the game with two goals and three assists.
A scoreline like that is certainly going to impact the Champions’ morale, and coming up against an in-form Everton might cause further damage. The last game between these sides ended in a goalless stalemate at the Goodison. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at this thrilling derby.
Team News & Tactics
Carlo Ancelotti will have to deal with multiple absent names ahead of this game, with Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Jarrad Branthwaite, Mason Holgate, Cenk Tosun, Jonjoe Kenny, and Yerry Mina ruled out of action with different injuries. Lucas Digne also picked up a knock against Croatia while on international duty but will go through further tests to determine his game-time.
Seamus Coleman is expected to start at right-back, with the duties of captaincy on his shoulders. He will be joined by regulars Michael Keane and Lucas Digne as part of the back-four, while Ben Godfrey is expected to make his debut in the absence of Holgate and Mina. This quartet will be given the job of guarding Jordan Pickford as he starts in the six-yard box with the gloves.
Allan will undoubtedly retain his place in the heart of the midfield as the screening midfielder after a top-notch start to the season, while Andre Gomes and Abdoulaye Doucoure start on his left and right respectively. Gomes and Doucoure will be given the role of box-to-box midfielders courtesy of their athletic nature and never-ending stamina.
Finally, in the attack, Ancelotti is bound to start his special trio that have taken the league by storm. James Rodriguez will be the primary creator in this side starting on the right, while Richarlison takes up the slot on the left. Man with the spotlight, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, will be at the tip of the team, playing as a poacher.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pickford; Coleman, Godfrey, Keane, Digne; Doucoure, Allan, Gomes; Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison
Unlike his counterpart for tomorrow, Jurgen Klopp has a lot fewer absentees to take care of, with only three names on the list. Naby Keita, who started the game against Aston Villa is unavailable due to an injury he picked in training and will join Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alisson on the sidelines. Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara returned to training after recovering from COVID-19, but their involvement is subject to a late test.
Adrian will continue in the absence of Alisson, and will hope to finally gain the trust of the Anfield faithfuls after a rather disastrous outing against Villa. Ahead of him, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will take their positions in the heart of the defence, while mainstays Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson start on the right and left fullbacks position respectively.
Thiago, who was diagnosed with the virus earlier than Mane and returned to training earlier than him as well will be given the nod for his first start in the Premier League, starting alongside captain Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho, who will act as the anchor in the midfield triumvirate, screening the defence.
Klopp will have to think long and hard before deciding his front-three for this encounter, especially the player who will take the left-wing spot. There is a cloud os uncertainty over Mane’s head, while Diogo Jota has returned from the Portuguese training base where Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for the virus. However, due to the importance of the game, we expect Mane to start alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino as the front-three.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mane
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.53
1. James Rodriguez to score anytime @ 4.50
- Everton are winless in 19 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D11 L8), since a 2-0 win in October 2010.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 22 meetings with Everton in all competitions – against no side have they ever had a longer run without defeat in their history (also 22 vs Aston Villa between 1981-1992).
- The last three Premier League meetings between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park have finished 0-0 – no specific fixture in English top-flight history has ever finished goalless in four consecutive matches before.
- This is the first top-flight Merseyside derby with Everton starting the day top of the table since September 1989, when Liverpool won 3-1 at Goodison Park thanks to goals from Ian Rush (2) and John Barnes.
- Everton are looking to win their opening five league games for the first time since the 1938-39 campaign – their fifth game that season was a 2-1 victory against the reigning top-flight champions (Arsenal).
Player to Watch
It is not common that Liverpool takes on the pitch, and there is another player who takes the cake as one to keep an eye on, but such has been the form of Englishman Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The 23-year-old has finally come into his own this season after an air of inconsistency around him for several years. In the four games he has played, ‘DCL’ has scored six goals, scoring at a rate of a goal every 85 minutes. Apart from that, he has also bagged two hattricks already this season and has also scored his debut England goal.
He will be especially crucial against Liverpool because the Reds deploy a very high line, which was taken advantage of by Aston Villa. Calvert-Lewin is an exceptional off the ball runner, finding space to attack between the lines and in the box. With creators like Lucas Digne and James Rodriguez trying to play him in at every opportunity, it would be fair to say that he might push the already vulnerable defence into more unforced errors.
Everton 2-1 Liverpool
Tomorrow is finally the day! Everton have not enjoyed a start to the Premier League campaign like this one, with this being the first Merseyside Derby where Everton are starting the game ahead of Liverpool since September 1989. Additionally, everything this season points towards chaos, and what better way to come in with an Everton win – their first since 2010 – at the Goodison Park against their worst rivals.