Sunday 4th October – 13:30 – Goodison Park
Liverpool make the short trip across Stanley Park to take on Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday in need of a win to ease the growing pressure on Brendan Rodgers. The Reds manager has been under further scrutiny this week having chosen to speak out against his critics in the wake of his side’s victory over Aston Villa, only to see them slip up at home to Sion in the Europa League on Thursday. That makes a victory over their near neighbours all the more imperative for Liverpool and Rodgers, in particular. However, a win over the Blues will not come easy with Roberto Martinez’s side in high spirits following their impressive comeback to beat West Brom 3-2 at The Hawthorns on Monday. [Sky Sports]
- Defenders John Stones and Seamus Coleman could return from respective knee and hamstring injuries for the game.
- Muhamed Besic is unlikely to recover in time from a hamstring problem, while Kevin Mirallas is still suspended.
- Leighton Baines and Tom Cleverley (both ankle) are not expected to be back fit until the end of this month.
- Striker Christian Benteke faces a late assessment on his fitness, having missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury.
- Roberto Firmino (back), Jordan Henderson (foot), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Dejan Lovren (ankle) remain sidelined.
- Brendan Rodgers could stick with the 3-4-1-2 formation, with Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge upfront and Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne as wing-backs.
The Key Battle: Romelu Lukaku vs Martin Skrtel
Romelu Lukaku’s six goals this season have all come in pairs, including last Monday when his brace helped Everton comeback to beat West Brom.
However, the Belgian has only netted one league goal at Goodison Park in 2015 and that was a penalty in the 3-0 victory against Newcastle in March.
A goal in the Merseyside derby at home would probably make up for that in the eyes of Everton fans, but Lukaku is coming up against the equally imposing Martin Skrtel.
The Slovakian and his defensive partner Mamadou Sakho both like a physical tussle but will have to do much better this weekend after letting Rudy Gestede score far too easily last Saturday.
Despite keeping clean sheets in the first three games of the campaign, Liverpool haven’t done so in the last six and have conceded nine goals in their last four league matches.
Everton wins = 60 / Liverpool wins = 77 / Draws = 66
*According to http://www.lfconline.com
Last Meeting: Everton 0-0 Liverpool (7th February 2015)
Everton and Liverpool played out a grim spectacle as the Merseyside derby ended in a goalless draw at Goodison Park. The game had been billed as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s farewell to this Premier League fixture – but apart from one second-half bicycle kick that was deflected over the top, the 34-year-old struggled as much as anyone else in his 33rd derby to lift this game out of mediocrity. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was almost rewarded for the bold decision to give teenager Jordon Ibe only his second league start when he hit the post with a thunderous first-half effort. Everton, meanwhile, only produced a serious threat when Ross Barkley was given a five-minute cameo, setting up an opportunity for Seamus Coleman which brought a fine late save from Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet. [Adapted from BBC]
Roberto Martinez: “If you take the way we have started, we are showing a little bit of form and that could see us as favourites. But if you look at it in terms of the amount of money Liverpool spent over the last three seasons, clearly they need to be the favourites and the ones carrying expectations.”
Brendan Rodgers: “We will always take the favourite tag. When you are at Liverpool that is what you want. It shows you the level of expectancy here as opposed to another club. We are happy to live with that.”
The Referee – Martin Atkinson
- Last Premier League game: Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea (26th September 2015) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Everton game: Everton 3-0 Newcastle (15th March 2015) – 3 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Liverpool game: Liverpool 2-1 QPR (2nd May 2015) – 6 yellow cards, 1 red card
Stat of the Match
The Merseyside derby has produced 20 red cards in the Premier League, more than any other fixture in the division. However, there has not been a sending off in the last eight derbies in league and cup since Jack Rodwell’s red card in 2011 – which was later rescinded.
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports 1 are showing the derby live from 12:30pm, with kick-off an hour later. BBC One’s Match of the Day 2 will then have the highlights on Sunday evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Everton 1-1 Liverpool
Like both games last season, I think that this game will end as a draw. Everton could be the ones to take the lead through Arouna Kone, but then Liverpool will equalise, perhaps quite late on, thanks to a goal from Danny Ings. A loss for the Reds though, and Brendan Rodgers will face even more criticism and see the chances of him keeping his job decrease…