The Merseyside derby has always been hotly contested despite protestations to the contrary from those who instead name it the friendly derby. However, since the inception of the Premier League the game has had more red cards than and any other. As a neutral, I always look forward to this explosive fixture and Sunday will almost certainly be no different given Liverpool’s desperation to share the spoils. It is the longest currently running top-flight derby in England, having been played at that level since 1962 when Liverpool were promoted to the First Division so naturally there have been some classics. Here are my top five:
1) Everton 2-3 Liverpool (Premier League, April 2001)
If you look back 9 years to this fixture, you will be reflecting on one of the most pulsating and tempestuous Merseyside derbies of all time. Liverpool were seeking to close a nine-point gap on third place whilst the Toffees were desperate for three points in order to combat the threat of a relegation battle. It saw 12 yellow cards, two penalties, a red card and five goals in total. Emile Heskey opened the scoring for Liverpool after just four minutes in wake of a claim for handball from Jamie Carragher, who then played it Dietmar Hamman. The German slid a clever pass into Big Emile who shrugged off Steve Watson to crash the ball past Paul Gerrard. Everton’s equaliser came on 42 minutes when Michael Ball crossed into the opposition penalty area and Kevin Campbell gave chase only to be tackled by Carragher. In Carragher’s attempt to prod the ball away from Campbell, he inadvertently prodded it to Everton’s big number nine, Duncan Ferguson for 1-1.
After the break Liverpool hit an Everton side that were dominating proceedings on the counter attack. As Robbie Fowler attempted pick out Smicer, the ball found its way, via a deflection to Markus Babbel who slotted it home. 2-1. Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler then missed a penalty before Everton won one of their own – Jeff Winter pointing to the spot following a lunge on David Unsworth from the already booked Igor Biscan and as Biscan went to run an early bath, Unsworth dusted himself down and smashed it Sander Westerveld. In an already frenetic game, there was to be a final twist. In stoppage time, Niclas Alexandersson fouled Gregory Vignal over 40 yards from goal and Gary McAllister curled the ball majestically past Paul Gerrard to win it for the red half of Liverpool.
2) Everton 4-4 Liverpool (aet, FA Cup 5th Round replay, 1991)
It was a crazy game which produced one of the most exhilarating FA Cup games of all time. Peter Beardsley put Liverpool 1-0 up with a simple half-volley from close range and the men in red looked comfortable until Everton hero Graeme Sharp met Andy Hinchcliffe’s cross at the far post and headed them level. It was Beardsley again to make it 2-1, shimmying his way past Martin Keown and placing his left foot shot past Neville Southall. It was beginning to heat up and Sharp levelled in the 73 minute after an infamous mix up between Grobelaar and defender Nicol to make it 2-2. Everton needed to rescue it in the final minutes after Ian Rush’s goal and Tony Cottee was the man to do so and take it into extra time. In extra time, you’d have thought for all the world Barnes had sealed a famous victory with his curled effort for 4-3 but Cottee nabbed another leveller in minute 114th of this classic. Dalglish bizarrely resigned following the game.
3) Everton 3-0 Liverpool (Premier League, September 2006)
Everton continued their great start to the season with this victory over their Merseyside rivals with Andrew Johnson scoring twice. They showed a ruthless streak in front of goal and stood firm in the face of a Liverpool revival to record the biggest derby win in 42 years. Toffees fans who look back fondly at that day, will have Pepe Reina’s fumble of Lee Carsley’s shot for Andrew Johnson to nod home at the forefront of their minds.
4) Everton 1-0 Liverpool (FA Cup 2009)
Teenager Dan Gosling fired home the winner in this one with two minutes of extra time remaining to gift Everton bragging rights in this fourth round replay curling home a measured finish past Pepe Reina sparking wild celebrations from the Evertonians in Goodison Park.
5) Liverpool 3-1 Everton (FA Cup Final, May 1986)
Seven days after Liverpool had secured the title, with Everton coming second, the two met at Wembley for this historic FA Cup Final. Everton were appearing in their third successive final whilst Liverpool were bidding to be the third team in the 20th century to do the double. Gary Lineker latched onto Peter Reid’s 40 yard ball to open the scoring for Everton in the 27th minute. But Ian Rush equalised in the 56th minute and then five minutes later Johnston stabbed home for 2-1. There enough time for Rush to complete a brace with another goal late on linking up with Jan Molby. Bobby Mimms thwarted the Welshman in getting his hat-trick.