Merseyside derby is one of the most ferocious derbies in English football. No other derby has produced as many red cards as this one. Of late this derby hasn’t had much riding on it as far as the destination of title is concerned. This time also, other than the local bragging rights there isn’t much that is riding on this derby. It may have a say in deciding Champions League/Europa League spots but it’s still too early in the season. Both Liverpool and Everton desperately need a heavy dose of confidence booster and what better way than to beat your city rivals?
Liverpool’s early season form
It is not easy to replace your best player and it becomes all the more difficult if that player was also the best player in the league. Spurs found that out last season. They tried to replace Gareth Bale with a number of players but they weren’t able to integrate all the new signings in a year. Liverpool appears to be doing the same – replacing premier league’s best player with a number of players. Going by the evidence on display in the first 5 games of the season, Liverpool are also struggling to cope up with Suarez’s departure, integrating a number of new players and distraction of Champions League football. Liverpool have already lost three times this season including 2 losses at home. Their form in the cup competitions isn’t great either as they have made a heavy weather of putting away easier opponents in both Champions League and Capital One Cup.
Everton’s early season from
Everton under David Moyes were slow starters and expectations were moderate – to finish in the top half of the table. A Europa League spot would have been an achievement. But this is a new era at Goodison Park under Roberto Martinez. Last season he had Everton fans excited not only with the results but also with the free flowing exciting football that was on display. They just missed the Champions League spot to Arsenal, of course. With a settled squad, permanent deals for Lukaku and Barry and relative uncertainties in Man United, Liverpool and Tottenham camps, Everton fans have a reason to feel optimist of their chances of a top 4 finish this season. But so far the results haven’t come their way. They have been comprehensively beaten at home by Chelsea and then suffered a reverse against Crystal Palace. Their midweek loss to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup has put added pressure on Roberto Martinez side. This is possibly the worst fixture for Everton to stop 3 consecutive losses from becoming 4 as Everton have not won at Anfield for 15 year
Steven Gerrard has been a key figure for Liverpool especially in Merseyside derbies. Last year he was the one who started the demolition job at Anfield where Everton were comprehensively beaten 4-0. In the absence of departed Suarez, the task of creating and scoring has fallen on the young shoulders of Raheem Sterling. His pace and directness will keep Everton defenders occupied. One player who will be keenly watched is Mario Balotelli. He is an enigma, on his day he can change the game with sheer brilliance or can go invisible or can even produce a moment of madness. A derby where red cards are part and parcel of the game, Brendan Rodgers needs to make sure that Balotelli stays on the pitch. He will be crucial, more so because Sturridge will surely not be playing full 90 minutes.
From Everton’s point of view, their key player will be RomeluLukaku. He had a successful loan season last year and Everton have paid big money to acquire his services on permanent basis.
Another feisty encounter in the offing, possibly a red card for Mario Balotelli, with eventual score being a 2-2 draw