This Saturday we can look forward to the first big derby match of the Premier League season as Liverpool welcome local rivals Everton to Anfield.
Both sides have not been in great form lately but as everyone knows in derby matches, form goes out the window. Liverpool will be buoyed by the fact that they thrashed Everton 4-0 at Anfield when the two sides last met there in January. However, there is one glaring omission from the team that won that match in the form of Luis Suarez, and put together with the likely absence of Daniel Sturridge, the Reds won’t find it so easy this time round.
Everton will hope to avoid a repeat of that game and get their first win at Anfield in 15 years. Roberto Martinez’ side have had a difficult start to the season and currently find themselves three places below Liverpool in 14th position. The Toffees cannot be underestimated though and you would be hard pushed to find anyone on Merseyside who would do so.
There are several injuries in Liverpool’s squad at the moment and this will be a worry for Brendan Rodgers going into what is one of the club’s biggest matches of the season. Phillippe Coutinho is struggling with a groin injury and is doubtful to return in time for Saturday. Jordan Henderson missed the league cup game against Middlesbrough but is expected to feature this weekend. Daniel Sturridge and Glen Johnson could also return to training this week but the game may come too soon for them. Meanwhile, Joe Allen, Emre Can and Jon Flanagan are all out for the foreseeable future.
Seamus Coleman has a head injury and may not be fit enough to play against Liverpool this weekend for Everton. Martinez’ only other injury concerns are Steven Pienaar and Ross Barkley who won’t feature for the Toffees anytime soon.
- Liverpool defeated Everton 4-0 when the two sides last met at Anfield in January this year.
- The Reds have fared best in this fixture, winning 89 compared to Everton’s 66.
- No Premier League fixture has had more red cards than the Merseyside derby.
- Should Everton win, it will be exactly 15 years since the side last won at Anfield on the 27th September, 1999.
Henderson has come a long way from the seemingly hapless figure of two years ago, becoming indispensable to the club and filling the vice-captaincy vacancy after the departure of Daniel Agger in August. He has featured in all five of Liverpool’s league games this season and according to Squawka.com, he has averaged an 87% passing accuracy so far. This comprises of 263 successful passes and just 41 that did not reach their intended target. He has managed to win just over half of all his duels so far, doing particularly well when taking on opponents (he has a 67% success rate). The midfielder has demonstrated his defensive ability as well, being involved in an average of three defensive actions per game, as well as showing his skill in the final third of the pitch where he has created seven chances, two of which have resulted in assists. Henderson is an important part of how Liverpool play and this will not be a fact lost on Everton.
Lukaku was Everton’s biggest signing of the Summer after spending last season on loan at the club, and he will be looking forward to playing at Anfield after having to come off early in the game there last season. The striker scored against the Reds in the corresponding fixture at Goodison and will be hoping to do so again this weekend. In five league appearances for the Toffees this season, he has managed to score twice from 10 shots at goal. According to Squawka.com he has a shooting accuracy of 50% as five of these were on target. He has only managed to create two chances but one of them resulted in an assist for him. Lukaku currently has a passing accuracy of 78% but has only managed to win 43% of his duels. Surprisingly, when you look at his headed duels in more detail, he has only managed to win five out of 24, and this will be good news for Liverpool’s defenders who have struggled with set pieces. That being said, Lukaku has proven to be dangerous for opposition defences and the Reds will do well to remember that this weekend.
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The Merseyside derby is always a fiery affair with plenty of passion and occasional controversy. Both sides have lost their most recent league games but that form will go out the window when the two teams come together this weekend. I think it will be a high scoring match and that it will ultimately result in an entertaining 2-2 draw.