Merseyside Derby: The Key Battles | Lukaku V Lovren, Sterling V Stones

Merseyside Derby: The Key Battles | Lukaku V Lovren, Sterling V Stones

Saturday 27th September will be derby day part one featuring two heavyweight clashes involving neighbours from both Merseyside and North London. Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield whilst Tottenham make the short trip down to The Emirates to face Arsenal on the same day. Both derbies are normally full of passion, drama and a few altercations along the way making it a fascinating spectacle not just the fans from both sides, but for all watching.

This piece will preview the Merseyside Derby and the significant battles which will have an impact on the match.

Merseyside Derby Key Battles

LIVERPOOL vs. EVERTON    Kick-off: 12.45pm   Location: Anfield

This will be the 223rd Merseyside Derby between the two teams making it one of the most played fixtures in football history. Liverpool FC was actually established in result of a dispute between Everton and John Houlding, the owner of the land at Anfield which was originally home to the Toffees. Everton then moved across to Goodison Park and Houlding founded the Reds and now here we are two of the biggest clubs in English football.

In the previous 222 games, Liverpool have had the better of the spoils with 89 wins to Everton’s 66 wins with 67 draws along the way. One aspect that stands out in the fierce competitiveness of the match which has led to 20 red cards since 1994 so don’t be surprised if you see a few bone crunching challenges fly in.

Recent Head to Heads

2013/2014       Tue 28 Jan      Liverpool         4 – 0     Everton

2013/2014       Sat 23 Nov      Everton           3 – 3     Liverpool

2012/2013       Sun 05 May     Liverpool        0 – 0     Everton

2012/2013       Sun 28 Oct      Everton           2 – 2     Liverpool

2011/2012       Sat 14 Apr       Liverpool         2 – 1     Everton           F.A. Cup

2011/2012       Tue 13 Mar      Liverpool        3 – 0     Everton

2011/2012       Sat 01 Oct       Everton           0 – 2     Liverpool

Liverpool have not suffered defeat against Everton in the last six match in the Premier League, winning three and drawing three and also managed to dump the Toffees out of the FA Cup at the semi-final stage at Wembley in 2012.

The first encounter last season was an absolute thriller which eventually finished 3-3 after a pulsating second half. Liverpool took a very early lead through Coutinho but Everton hit back swiftly via Kevin Mirallas. Luis Suarez restored the advantage for the Reds with an inch perfect free kick before a double from Romelu Lukaku swing the contest back in Everton’s favour. Substitute Daniel Sturridge however has the final say, heading in a free-kick in the dying moments to rescue a point.

The game at Anfield however was much more one sided. An in-form Liverpool side dismantled a shell-shocked Roberto Martinez and co with a Sturridge double and a header from Steven Gerrard giving the Reds a 3-0 lead at half time. Luis Suarez capped off a fantastic team performance with another after the break and Everton will definitely want to avoid a repeat of that on Saturday.

Key Battles

Lukaku vs. Lovren

Lukaku finally found somewhere where he felt could help him progress and at his age, he needs to be playing week in week out in order to improve on a consistent basis. Saying that, Everton seems like the perfect club for him. After making his move permanent this summer after an impressive stint with the side last season on loan from Chelsea, the Belgian can now focus solely on the Toffees and helping them achieve their ambitions. After scoring in the last two games against West Brom and Crystal Palace, the 21-year-old will look to hit the net against a Liverpool side which he has scored five goals against in the last four games.

Dejan Lovren is slowly starting to find his feet as a Liverpool player and will have the task of stopping the powerful figure of Lukaku on Saturday. After a tough initiation, Lovren will hope to start reproducing the form that made Liverpool pay £20 million for from Southampton in the summer. The Liverpool back four has been subject to many changes within the last few games but once settled, communication and relationships will be tighter with Lovren at the heart. He will have a tough job on his hands on the weekend but it could also be the match which kick-starts his Liverpool career.

Sterling vs. Stones

Sterling has been Liverpool’s most potent attacking player in what has been a stuttering start for the Reds. The 19-year-old was surprisingly dropped from their last home game which resulted in a defeat to Aston Villa but returned to score last week against West Ham but that also ended in defeat at Upton Park. Sterling has so far managed three goals from three starts, continuing his fantastic form from last season and has firmly established himself as Liverpool’s most dangerous offensive player alongside Daniel Sturridge.

stones vs sterling

With Sterling attacking the right hand side, Everton right-back will have the duty of keeping him quiet on the weekend. John Stones, like Sterling has established himself within the Everton team at a very young age after moving from Barnsley in early 2013. With the ability to also play at centre-back, his performances have earned him a place in the England and played both games at the last international break, including the Euro qualifier win at Switzerland. With the 93% passing accuracy rate so far, his distribution of the ball is fantastic but will need to be more alert to the danger of the likes of Sterling in order to nullify swift breaks on the counter.

Gerrard vs. Barry

Being a born and bred Scouser supporting Liverpool, this fixture is more than just a match for Steven Gerrard, it always is. The celebration for his goal in the 4-0 win in the last meeting says all you need to know about the Liverpool Captain and how important it is to beat your local rivals. In terms of this season, we are yet to see the best of Gerrard who has been subject to much criticism for his performances in the two defeats to Villa and West Ham. The 34-year-old will have a point to prove going into the game in order to silence the critics.

Having played a major part to a successful season for Everton in the last campaign on loan from Man City, Roberto Martinez wasted no time in snapping up Gareth Barry on a free transfer following his release from the Etihad. Acting as the holding midfielder for the Blues, Barry will have a huge role in breaking up play within the middle of the field to stopping the attacking force for Liverpool and will need to improve 36% tackle success rate in the process.