The first Merseyside derby of the season sees a different context than we have been used to in recent years. One team is coming in with a 100% record, the other has just been thrashed by a side that narrowly avoided relegation in the previous campaign. Each club are in a position that the other is more used to and this weekend offers a great opportunity for Everton to hammer home that early advantage. They have an opportunity to heap more misery on their local rivals and with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, there will be more confidence than there has been in recent seasons.
There may never be a better opportunity for Everton to finish high in the Premier League table. They have a talented squad of players that has been taken to a new level over the summer and a coach that has won at the highest level. The scheduling this season should help them compete with the top six, as they aren’t in Europe and able to put all of their resources into the domestic campaign. This year, that will be an even bigger advantage. Their recent history in this fixture won’t fill them with confidence, but they come into the match in better form. This is a big chance for them to win their first Merseyside derby in the league since 2010.
Liverpool looked set to carry their title-winning form into the new campaign and establish an early lead at the top of the table. However, they were given a wake-up call against Aston Villa, as they were second best in every department. Their brave high line was exposed and they will not be relishing the opportunity of facing the in-form Everton forward line. It has become clear over the last 18 months that the Reds are reliant on Alisson Becker, as the Brazilian has a calming influence on the rest of the team. His absence will make this weekend more difficult, but the returns of Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara should provide a fresh look to the team.
Liverpool haven’t lost against Everton in 22 matches across all competitions.
The Merseyside derby has finished goalless on 11 occasions. This is more than any other fixture in the history of the Premier League.
Everton have won their first four fixtures in the top-flight for the first time since the 1969-70 season. On that occasion, they lifted the league title.
It has been a remarkable start to the campaign for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as he establishes himself as one of the best goal-scorers in the country. The Everton striker already has six Premier League goals and he has recently scored on his England debut. The influence of Carlo Ancelotti has been obvious, as the number nine has started to take up better positions and is reading the game in the final third much more effectively. Although the Toffees’ coach has managed to attract a better quality of player to Goodison Park, he is also improving those already at the club. Calvert-Lewin is the best example of this. However, the 23-year-old must maintain this form over a much longer period of time in order to truly make a name for himself. This fixture will be a good test of where he currently is. Liverpool’s defensive frailties against Aston Villa will give him confidence that he can have a big impact on the match on Saturday.
The Egyptian has had a good start to the season. He was one of the few to emerge with credit as he scored twice against Aston Villa, which has taken him to five goals for the campaign. Unsurprisingly he is among the top scorers of the division and his own personal goal will be to reclaim the golden boot. Since his arrival at Anfield, he has been very consistent in the final third and he looks hungry to maintain that level. This season, Salah is averaging 4 shots per ninety minutes. Only Harry Kane has attempted more shots, which shows the threat posed by the Liverpool attacker. This weekend will provide extra motivation for Salah, as he has only scored once in the Merseyside derby. This is a record that he will want to improve on and after a rest during the international break, he will be the key threat for the home side.
Everton have several injury concerns, but they will be boosted by the availability of many this weekend. Lucas Digne, Allan, Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman are all expected to be passed fit for the Merseyside derby. Ben Godfrey will be available following his recent signing, but it is unlikely that he is thrown into a derby match. Mason Holgate, Jonjoe Kenny and Jean-Philippe Gbamin all remain out of action.
Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara should both be available following periods of self-isolation. It is also hoped that Joel Matip and Konstantinos Tsimikas will be available to Jurgen Klopp. Alisson Becker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both long term absentees, with neither being able to feature this weekend.
This should be one of the best Merseyside derbies in recent seasons, as Everton now have a manager and squad that can compete in these matches. Although Liverpool remain several levels ahead and are rightly the favourites, Jurgen Klopp will be aware that this will be a more difficult challenge than it has been for the majority of his time at Anfield. The recent form of Everton should give them a fearless attitude and they will look to exploit the lack of confidence in the Liverpool defence. This will be a great watch and due to Alisson missing out through injury, the visitors should have enough to leave Goodison Park with their unbeaten record in tact.
Liverpool 2-2 Everton