It’s if anything an understatement to say that Liverpool fans were anticipating more than 2 wins from their first 8 league games; however this is the case as the appointment of Brendan Rodgers, whilst improving Liverpool’s play, has not yet found a remedy for their inconsistent form where by contrast their Merseyside neighbours Everton are enjoying a good start to the campaign, currently sitting 4th in the league.
I suppose on current form, home advantage and on paper, arguably the better players, Everton march into this Sunday’s derby with Liverpool as slight favourites; however before you have a flutter, remember that in a derby anything can and usually does happen. They are full blooded intense affairs that usually are decided by which side can put away the one or two chances that they get.
In these games the form book is thrown out of the window, as demonstrated by some of the results between the two Merseyside clubs over the years, where despite Liverpool’s downturn over the past 3 seasons they have still only lost once in their last 7 matches against Everton.
Last season, despite their poor form in the league, the Reds managed to do the double over Everton as well as beat them in the FA Cup semi final – the 3 defeats are still fresh in the minds of Everton fans and it has taught them to never count out their fierce rivals.
Both sides are likely to suffer from players missing with Liverpool now down to only one recognised senior striker in Luis Suarez. Out of form keeper Pepe Reina is also a doubt.
Everton meanwhile face a sweat over Marouane Fellaini’s fitness and also have to deal with Steven Pienaar being suspended following his sending off last week.
The loss of Pienaar is a big blow for Everton as his link up play with Baines down the left hand side has been one of the key’s to Everton’s success.
Despite this the return of Fellaini would be a huge boost to the side and provide a big physical presence in Everton’s midfield. His battling qualities will be important in a match which is hardly likely to be remembered for fluid passing play.
Liverpool though will be entering the derby on the back of a big win against Russian moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday night.
They are starting to find a little form with three clean sheets in there last three games and in Suarez they have a player who can create something out of nothing.
My Prediction: 2-1 to Everton
I’ll take a stab and even though I know I’m tempting fate as an Everton fan, I think they’ll just edge it.
It will tight don’t get me wrong and Liverpool will probably enjoy long periods of possession. I just think that with Everton having a goal scorer and Liverpool lacking one, the Toffee’s are more likely to make the most of their chances.
One other reason I think that Everton might clinch victory is that they will be fresh whereas Liverpool had to play Anzhi during midweek. Brendan Rodgers played a strong side in that game and with only four days rest and the game likely to be played at a high intensity, they are bound to tire.
If however Liverpool can find a way to win, it will definitely be a sign that Rodgers’ reign is finally getting into full swing.
Join us at 12.30 today for coverage of the Merseyside Derby – give your predictions here