Liverpool and Everton meet each other in the FA Cup for the 24th time this Friday night, with the two Merseyside rivals ushering in 2017/18’s much-anticipated Third Round action.
The last time these two sides faced each other in December, they partook in a cagey 1-1 draw at Anfield. But will we see another close-knit encounter this time around, or will one side run away with it?
Hoping to shed some light on the likely result, here’s everything you need to know before kickoff….
In terms of FA Cup clashes, there hasn’t been much to choose between the Merseyside rivals down the years. Liverpool slightly edge Everton in terms of wins, goals scored and clean sheets but the differences are marginal – the biggest gap is goals scored, with just five separating the two teams. Perhaps the most significant statistic then, is the respective win rates at Anfield.
Although Liverpool have failed to win the majority of games on their own patch, Everton are still awaiting their first FA Cup victory away to their Stanley Park neighbours. Can Sam Allardyce mastermind it this weekend?
Bobby Madley is certainly amongst the less favoured Premier League referees at this moment in time, coming under criticism for big decisions during his last few matches.
But Everton will take positives from the fact he ranks a lowly 14th out of the Premier League’s 18 referees this season for fouls per match, alongside 13th for fouls per tackle; Allardyce’s side will need to make plenty of physical challenges if they’re to stop Liverpool’s vibrant attacking play at Anfield, and it also reduces the chance of one of their free kick specialists taking advantage of fouls around the box.
On the other hand, however, no Premier League referee has overseen a greater percentage of draws than the 32-year-old this season – including two point-apiece affairs involving the Toffees. Interestingly, he’s yet to referee a top-flight clash involving Liverpool in 2017/18.
With Klopp already ruling Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho out of Friday’s clash, Liverpool look set to ring the changes in attack – but we’re predicting them all over the park.
Danny Ings could get a runout up top after being used as a substitute twice in December and making the bench against Burnley – which would constitute his first start of the season – while Ben Woodburn may be turned to in order to inject some local-lad feel into the derby.
Loris Karius for Simon Mignolet is an obvious change between the sticks and after Klopp was coy on the issue in his press conference, we could also see Virgil van Dijk make his full debut for the Anfield outfit. The big question is whether Sadio Mane makes it back in time from the African Footballer of the Year awards.
Everton too, are likely to make changes after a hectic festive period. While Allardyce’s hands are somewhat tied in some positions – chiefly at left-back where he’s already relying on Cuco Martina to play on his lesser fancied flank – the Everton boss will relish the chance to give some fringe players invaluable minutes and the chance to impress.
That particularly rings true with summer signing Davy Klaassen, who hasn’t featured in the Premier League since September, and fellow midfielder James McCarthy who has just returned from an injury. Gylfi Sigurdsson looks set to feature after being left on the bench against Manchester United, while Aaron Lennon could return to the starting XI as well.