This game week is a derby game week in the Premier League. The two Manchester clubs will slug it out for supremacy on Wednesday evening. Before that showpiece match is the Merseyside derby on Sunday afternoon. Liverpool host Everton on Sunday, knowing that this is the first of three derby encounters happening between the sides as they will host the Toffees again in January for the FA Cup.
Liverpool come into this match in some great form having scored 22 goals in the last six games. In fact, they have scored 40 in the last 11 matches in all competition. This recent run has allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to return to the top four and a win on Sunday will keep them there. For Liverpool, in recent seasons, and especially this season, Europe has been a detractor. The Reds have won just one of their five matches following a Champions League tie this season, drawing three and losing one. Given the importance of the game, Jurgen Klopp might want to keep the “Fab Four” in the starting lineup and substitute some of them out in the second half.
Everton have also built up some form over the last few matches. Everton have won their last two Premier League matches – as many as they had managed in their previous 12. The appointment of Sam Allardyce as their manager has lifted the Toffees from the vicinity relegation spots to the tenth position in the table. In the last three matches in all competitions, Everton have scored nine and conceded none. Despite their utterly poor record at Anfield, the Toffees will be hopeful that Sam Allardyce can once again work his magic and get some points out of this fixture.
Liverpool are set to welcome Jordan Henderson back into the midfield possibly in place of Gini Wijnaldum, while Alberto Moreno’s ankle injury means that either Robertson or Milner will play left-back on Sunday. Given the importance of the game, Klopp might not rotate his attack or Coutinho. Mignolet is likely to come back in the goal.
Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka are both fit to play on Sunday after overcoming injury problems. Sam Allardyce will also hope that Leighton Baines can be available after he missed the last match.
- In 50 Premier League matches, Liverpool have won 22, Everton have won 9 and 19 have been drawn. Liverpool could equal their longest unbeaten run in all competitions against Everton of 15 games.
- Sam Allardyce was the last visiting manager to win at Anfield – in April with Crystal Palace. It was his first victory at Anfield, having drawn three and lost ten in his previous 13 visits. If Everton manage to win on Sunday, he would have defeated Liverpool with four different clubs, a record currently held by Harry Redknapp.
- The Reds have turned Anfield into a fortress of sorts, having conceded only two league goals at home this season in nine league matches. In seven Premier League home matches, the Reds have scored 13 goals.
- Everton have not won a Premier League match at Anfield since September 1999 (D8, L9). In the last five matches against Everton, the Reds have scored 14 goals, while conceding only three.
One stat has been doing rounds since Liverpool routed Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night – when Liverpool’s Fab Four – Coutinho, Firmino, Mane, and Salah play together, Liverpool score a goal every 23 minutes. The quartet share their goals around although Mohamed Salah is way ahead of others at 18 goals in all competitions, in the first week of December. However, on Sunday, against Sam Allardyce’s defense Liverpool will need more technique, which is provided by Phil Coutinho. The Brazilian has been directly involved in 12 goals in his last 10 league games, scoring seven and assisting five. His xG per 90 of 0.23 and xA per 90 minutes of 0.36, means that Coutinho has a 60% chance of contributing a goal every 90 minutes.
Till very recently, Wayne Rooney’s return to Everton had been going awry. But Allardyce’s arrival has lifted the performances of his former England forward. He netted a hattrick two game weeks back against West Ham and played provider in the win against Huddersfield. He is one of the few players in the Everton lineup who have an experience of scoring at Anfield, as his two goals for Manchester United at Anfield won the two games for his old club. With xG per 90 of 0.39 and xA per 90 of 0.13, Rooney is taking the right kind of shots and making the right kind of final pass. If Everton are to take any points from Anfield on Sunday, their star player will have to play really well.
Jurgen Klopp made it amply clear that he has great respect for Everton as opponents. But the firepower he possesses in his attack is truly world class. Even though Sam Allardyce has arrested Everton’s downfall and organized the side a bit – especially defense – it is unlikely to be enough to stop Liverpool from scoring a goal or two. Everton will make Liverpool work for it, but eventually, it should be a win for the Reds.
Liverpool 2 – 0 Everton