Tomorrow sees Liverpool and Everton meet for the 221st time in a Merseyside derby that could be the biggest in the last few years.
Ten years ago, it was the only derby in England where the two teams involved were fighting for the same thing. In this instance, the 2004-05 season saw the two clubs fighting it out for Champions League football, with Everton beating their rivals to fourth spot by three points.
But more recently, both clubs have slid lower in the table and are now expected to be fighting each other for Europa League action, with last season the first time since 2005 that the Toffees had finished above the Reds.
2009-10 was the first time since 2003-04 that neither of the Merseyside teams finished in the top four and both have not returned since.
But could this year be different? With Brendan Rodgers’ side currently in second place, a win over their rivals could send them top if Arsenal drop points against Southampton.
Meanwhile, it will be Everton’s first derby without David Moyes in charge since February 2002. This could be an interesting one.
But is it the best derby in Britain at the moment?
In my opinion, the only games that would rival it for that title are Manchester United vs Manchester City, Arsenal vs Tottenham and Celtic vs Rangers.
So let’s look at the stats. In terms of goals the Manchester Derby averages 2.9 goals a game (446 goals in 166 games), as does the North London Derby (515 goals in 176 games). The Merseyside Derby actually only beats the Old Firm Derby by 0.1 of a goal. It has 2.2 goals a game (501 goals in 220 games) whilst the Old Firm averages 2.3 a game (892 goals in 399 games)
Because of this as well as the fact that they aren’t playing in the same division, I think Celtic vs Rangers can be unfortunately counted out of the running. Before Rangers’ money problems, it could have been in with a shot, but until they are back in the same division, this derby has less quality.
So it comes down to the battle of the British. In my opinion, they all provide drama, controversy and fantastic goals, things all great derbies need. But right now, only because games in recent years have produced better spectacles, both the Manchester and North London derby beat Everton vs Liverpool.
However, tomorrow’s game looks set to be the most enticing Merseyside derby in a quite a while and you never know, I could be writing in 12 months time with a completely different view.
Other derbies to consider:
- Newcastle vs Sunderland
- Cardiff vs Swansea
- Aston Villa vs Birmingham
- Southampton vs Portsmouth
- Hibernian vs Hearts