December 1st brings the initial door opening of our advent calendars, and also the first Merseyside Derby of the season. Former Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez, is still fighting to win over the Toffees’ fan base, and a win this Wednesday would make that transition complete. Liverpool head across the way after a brilliant run of form, which is seeing them as prolific a Jürgen Klopp team that we have witnessed. The wintery weather will surely add to what promises be, a ferocious battle.
Everton dropped to 14th in the Premier League, after their 1-0 loss away to Brentford. The Blues are struggling to maintain consistency, and the lack of substantial summer additions is hurting Rafa’s side. With a team now structured to maintain, if not enthral, they will certainly look to frustrate their visitors on Wednesday evening. The bench at the weekend looked particularly uninspired, but Fabian Delph will probably come into the team to add experience and bite. Everton will look to set out with a 4-5-1 system, and a combination of set pieces and counters will be their attacking game plan. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison remain on the injured list, so Salomón Rondón will continue to lead the line.
Liverpool will no doubt look to rotate a few players (between the Everton and Wolves games), with preservation of the squad important through this period. The Derby may well see Joël Matip restored to the starting line up, with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Konstantinos Tsimikas and James Milner all looking for minutes this week.
The front three should remain, though Divock Origi will be hoping to make an impact at some point. The midfield will no doubt see Fabinho and Thiago start, with the third spot up for grabs. The fullbacks were flying at the weekend, and may see their minutes managed at the weekend. Everton away is a calendar highlight, so a win here would set the reds off to a flying December start.
Possession of the ball will be heavily dictated by Liverpool, but the on field battles and aggressive play could be key to the game. Everton may well start this game fearing the worst, and Liverpool are now hunting teams that fail to stand to them. Everton have key players missing, and it’s hard to see how they bounce back from Sunday’s loss.
Liverpool will look to overwhelm the Toffees, with Séamus Coleman potentially a target for the overload. Everton’s deep block will have to stay alert, and hope to counter quickly. Demarai Gray may come into the side to add pace, but changes are tough at the moment. The nature of this game can sometimes be unpredictable, yet much with Liverpool’s recent games against Manchester United and Arsenal, the reds simply look too strong not to win.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane & Diogo Jota are all now fighting to outscore one another, and this could be a cause for Everton alarm. Rafa may well find the away support more appreciating than his own, though with any Merseyside Derby, it could well end the other way around.
Player to watch – Jordan Pickford
Everton 0 – 2 Liverpool