Generally speaking, the Merseyside derby is considered one of the marquee fixtures of the season by both Liverpool fans, as well as Everton fans. It is also considered one of the tougher fixtures by both sets of fans. This season however, the gulf between the two sides is so vast that the upcoming derby on Wednesday night already feels like a one-sided contest. Everton, who are teetering on the brink of the relegation zone are taking on Liverpool at Anfield where the Reds have not lost in ages.
However, if you see Liverpool’s recent performances on the field, it is a surprise that they have not lost in a while. Currently, they do not seem to be playing with the swagger of a side that is 8 points clear at the top. They seem to be stumbling through to wins. Even when they seem likely to win comfortably, they conjure up crises of their own making and then scrape through. That is how they managed to hold on to a 2-1 victory against Brighton, after Alisson handled the ball outside the box late into the second half and Brighton scored from the resulting free kick. What followed was some spirited attacking from Brighton and some desperate defending from Liverpool. But the fact is that whether it is against Brighton in the last game or against Manchester City and Leicester City earlier in the season, Liverpool have managed to fight and ensure three points from each of those games. In fact, they have dropped just two points all season.
Everton, on the other hand have collected points from only 5 of their 14 games so far. With three wins and two draws, they are currently 17th in the table. Till last season, Everton used to separate the top six from the rest of the table. This season, they are separating the relegation zone from the teams above them. They could have improved their points tally, as well as their position in the table. But on Sunday night, when they had led 1-0 for much of the first half, the Toffees conceded a 94th minute winner to Iheanacho, who handed a victory to Leicester City. Results such as these are the reason why Marco Silva is the most likely to get sacked next.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 17 Premier League games against Everton (W7 D10). It is their longest ever unbeaten run against a specific opponent in the competition. In fact, Everton have not won a league game at Anfield since September 1999 (D9 L10). In all competitions, the Reds are unbeaten in 19 games against their neighbours (W9 D10).
- Everton have lost eight of their 14 opening matches in the Premier League for the first time since 2011-12 under David Moyes. In only one season in their entire history have they lost more after 14 games – 10 in the 1948-49 season.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 31 Premier League games (W26 D5). If they avoid defeat on Wednesday, it will be their longest ever run without defeat in top-flight history. But for Jurgen Klopp’s sake, his side should ensure a win. He has won 99 of his 158 Premier League games and can become the second-fastest to 100 wins in 157 games on Wednesday. Jose Mourinho (142 games) was the fastest.
- Everton are incredibly goal shy this season, scoring just 14 goals in 14 games, sitting 17th in the goals scored table, matching their position in the Premier League table. On top of that, Everton have failed to score in seven of their last 11 Premier League games with Liverpool, netting just once in each of the other four.
- Last minute goals are Everton’s bane this season, but a boon for Liverpool against the Toffees. Everton have conceded more 90th minute league goals than any other side this season (four), two of which have come in the last two games. Liverpool have scored more 90+ minute winning goals against Everton in the Premier League than any side has against another in the competition’s history (5).
Adrian last played about 2 months ago. His first stint as the starting goalkeeper happened because Alisson ruled himself out through an injury. He will get a second chance this season because the Brazilian has again ruled himself out through a suspension. Adrian will be thankful for the chance and a bit more determined to make an impact on Liverpool’s game. With 3.15 saves per game, from 4.48 shots faced per game, he has already shown that he has what it takes to be the Reds’ keeper. His long pass distribution success rate of 66% also makes him valuable in Liverpool’s attacks.
Of the 14 goals scored by Everton thus far, Richarlison has scored 4 and assisted 2. His xG90 of 0.28 is well complemented by xA90 of 0.15, giving him ~43% chance of contributing a goal if he plays the full 90 minutes. Additionally his xGBuildUp90 (Total xG of every possession he is involved in except key passes and shots) of 0.16 indicates that even when he is involved in the play further away from the opponents’ goal, he can be useful. If Everton are to get even a point on Wednesday, Richarlison will have to be in top form.
For Liverpool, Fabinho and Joel Matip are still unavailable due to injuries, while Alisson is not available because of his red card against Brighton in the last game. James Milner and Naby Keita will vie for a midfield spot if Klopp chooses to rotate. Klopp might resist an urge to rotate at the front in this game. Possible Liverpool starting lineup for Sunday: Adrian; Trent, Lovren, van Dijk, Roberston; Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
For Everton, Theo Walcott, Fabian Delph and Seamus Coleman could all be missing. Long term absentees include Andre Gomes, Jean-Phillippe Gbamin, and Cuco Martina. Possible starting lineup for the Blues could be: Pickford; Sidibe, Mina, Keane, Digne; Davies, Schneiderlin; Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin.
Wednesday’s game promises to be one of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies in the recent memory and it would be a significant upset if Everton manage to salvage even a point. Liverpool however, seem uncapable of keeping a clean sheet and are likely to concede at least one goal.
Liverpool 3 – 1 Everton