Liverpool vs Everton
Saturday 27th September – 12:45 – Anfield
The two Merseyside clubs both did better than expected last season, but neither Liverpool or Everton has started off this campaign well, sitting in 11th and 14th respectively, with just 11 points and three wins between them (less than Chelsea). Both sides suffered surprise defeats last weekend, with Everton losing 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace and Liverpool finding themselves beaten 3-1 at Upton Park. This poor form has meant that the loser of today’s derby could well find themselves in the relegation zone at the end of the weekend. Liverpool needed a dramatic penalty shoot-out to go through against Middlesborough in the League cup this week, whilst Everton crashed to a 3-0 defeat to Swansea, so it’s fair to say morale probably isn’t very high in either camp. This fixture did produce two fantastic games last season, so neutrals will be hoping for the same again, and with 20 red cards in this encounter since 1992, expect to see a few fireworks too – especially with Mario Balotelli on the pitch.
The Key Battle: Alberto Moreno vs Kevin Mirallas & Seamus Coleman
Liverpool’s new left-back faces a tough task to contain Everton’s incredibly strong right hand side, with Kevin Mirallas likely to be used on the right wing (although he occasionally plays centrally) and Seamus Coleman at right-back also a threat.
Mirallas’ pace should keep Moreno busy, and may mean that the Spaniard does not get to attack as much as he normally likes to. This should also ensure that Liverpool’s defensive efforts are not solely focused on Lukaku, who will probably start as the lone striker.
He will also have to keep an eye on Coleman, one of the Premier League’s most prolific goal-scoring defenders last season. The Irishman is a doubt with a head injury though.
How well Moreno does his job could well decide the game, with the right side of the pitch being where the main Everton attacking threat will come from.
- Brendan Rodgers hopes that Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho will be fit despite respective hip and groin problems.
- Daniel Sturridge may be on the bench despite lacking fitness after a thigh injury but could well feature, with Rodgers saying he will give every opportunity for the striker to play.
- The match comes too soon for Joe Allen (knee), Emre Can (ankle), Glen Johnson (thigh) and Jon Flanagan (knee) though, who all remain out.
- Right-back Seamus Coleman is doubtful with a head injury, while Steven Pienaar’s hamstring problem will also be assessed. However both are facing a race to be fit for the derby.
- Ross Barkley, who returned to light training this week, is still sidelined, but midfielder Darron Gibson and full-back Bryan Oviedo proved their fitness by making comebacks from long-term injuries at Swansea on Tuesday so could feature.
- Arouna Kone, who was an unused substitute in the League Cup defeat by the Swans and is highly unlikely to make the pitch today as well.
Liverpool wins = 77 / Everton wins = 60 / Draws = 64
Last meeting: Liverpool 4-0 Everton (28th January 2014)
Liverpool maintained their pursuit of a top-four place in magnificent style as Everton were thrashed 4-0 at Anfield. Billed as the most crucial league meeting between the sides in 30 years, the contest was all over inside 35 minutes as Liverpool raced into a three-goal lead courtesy of Steven Gerrard’s header and two goals in three minutes from striker Daniel Sturridge. Luis Suarez added a fourth for the hosts five minutes after half-time when he cashed in on Phil Jagielka’s mistake and Sturridge wasted the opportunity to secure a derby hat-trick when he blazed a penalty over the top after Raheem Sterling was fouled by keeper Tim Howard. The emphatic victory was Liverpool’s biggest derby triumph since November 1982.
Stat of the Match
This match takes place 15 years to the day since Everton’s last win at Anfield on 27 September 1999, when Kevin Campbell got the only goal
Where can I watch it?
With the game kicking-off at 12:45pm, BT Sport 1’s coverage begins at midday. Alternatively, you can see the highlights of the match on Match of the Day at 10:30pm this evening.
My Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Everton
Both sides haven’t started the season that well, so both will be determined to get a much needed win. Home advantage could decide it and Mario Balotelli may get his first league goal for Liverpool, with Raheem Sterling bagging The Reds’ other. For Everton, I think Romelu Lukaku may get on the scoresheet, and don’t be surprised to see a sending off or two either.
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 27th September – 17:30 – Emirates Stadium
Arsenal welcome north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to Emirates Stadium tonight, hoping to extend their home dominance over their local rivals. Spurs have won just twice at Arsenal in the league in almost 30 years and head into the game trailing Arsene Wenger’s side by two points and five places in the early table. Saturday’s hosts are one of only two unbeaten teams in the Premier League after five games, but have drawn three of those, including a 2-2 draw with champions Manchester City in their previous home fixture. Last weekend they beat Aston Villa 3-0, whilst Mauricio Pochettino’s side gave West Brom their first win of the season, losing 1-0 to Alan Irvine’s team. This means that their start to the season is their worst since Juande Ramos was in charge at the beginning of the 2008/09 campaign. They did find success in the League Cup in midweek though, beating Championship leaders Nottingham Forest 3-1, but Arsenal lost 2-1 to Southampton after taking the lead. Both teams have European matches coming up, but winning this derby fueled with historic rivalry will be the current priority.
The Key Battle: Per Mertesacker vs Emmanuel Adebayor
Arsenal fans hate Emmanuel Adebayor. There is absolutely no doubt about that.
The one-time Gunners striker now plays for their most bitter rivals, and is likely to receive a chorus of boos with every touch of the ball.
For this reason he will play a big part in the game. If Adebayor can get on the ball a lot and frustrate the Arsenal fans, their frustration will get through to the players.
Mauricio Pochettino needs to be clever in the way he utilises Adebayor on Saturday, because used right he could be the player who decides the game.
Per Mertesacker’s physical presence will make it very difficult for the Togolese to win anything in the air, or out-strength the defence.
The German’s lack of pace is easy to expose at times, but whether it is exposed or not depends on which Adebayor turns up.
- Defenders Kieran Gibbs and Per Mertesacker will be available to start after only being fit enough to be named as substitutes against Southampton.
- Mathieu Flamini is also expected to return, but Olivier Giroud (ankle), Theo Walcott (knee) and Mathieu Debuchy (ankle) remain long-term absentees.
- Yaya Sanogo and Nacho Monreal are also both absentees through hamstring and back injuries, but are much closer to fitness than the aforementioned trio.
- Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino will restore a host of players that sat out the midweek win over Nottingham Forest to give youngsters an opportunity to impress.
- In terms of injuries though, he has almost a fully fit squad to choose from, the only sidelined player being Kyle Walker, who has a pelvis problem that has been troubling him for some time.
- Many fans are anticipating who the former Southampton boss picks as his two centre-backs, with fans favourite Jan Vertonghen having falling out of favour in recent weeks to Eric Dier, Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches.
Arsenal wins = 71 / Tottenham wins = 52 / Draws = 44
Last meeting: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Arsenal (16th March 2014)
Arsenal kept themselves in strong contention for the Premier League title as Tomas Rosicky’s early goal secured victory at rivals Tottenham. The Czech Republic international rifled in a sublime angled drive just two minutes into the game after leading a swift break for the visitors. Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor flicked a shot just wide in the first half, and they dominated after the break. Nacer Chadli’s low shot was blocked on the line and Adebayor headed narrowly off target, but Arsenal held on to win in Arsene Wenger’s 999th game in charge of The Gunners.
Stat of the Match
If there are four goals in this game then it will become the outright highest scoring fixture in Premier League history (currently 126 goals).
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports 1 are broadcasting the game live from the Emirates Stadium, starting at 4:45pm with the game itself starting at 5:30pm. Just like the Liverpool vs Everton game, highlights can be seen on Match of the Day this evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Another close derby match is in store, and this one may begin level and end level. But do expect goals to be scored and probably quite early on. I’m going for Alexis Sanchez to score for the hosts, with a Christian Eriksen strike meaning the points are shared at the Emirates Stadium.