Liverpool travel to Goodison Park for the early match on Saturday for the first Merseyside derby of the season, and despite the imbalance on paper, the Reds have a tough job to do.
The club is coming off a less than impressive victory against Wolves, but a win is a win, and it was the correct response after a difficult past few league matches. Everton on the other hand played a spirited match against Premier League favorites Manchester City, before giving up two second half goals in a difficult loss. David Moyes will need to ensure his club is more than ready, as they will be missing the club’s vice captain, Tim Cahill, to injury. Expect Louis Saha to take his place, but due to the lack of forwards, coupled with Moyes’ apparent distrust of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, the Toffees likely will have to play a defensive setup similar to the match against City.
Liverpool will likely start a similar lineup to the last match, with the only questions being whether Jordan Henderson will start over Dirk Kuyt and who will take over in the center of defense. It would not be surprising to see Hendo over Kuyt again, as Kenny Dalglish seems like he trusts the youngster to continue to gain experience. Sebastian Coates will be hopeful to get the start, but he will likely have to sit on the substitute’s bench, with Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher having much more experience when it comes to playing Everton. With Carra in the fold, expect a very heated affair. Then again, it is always heated when it comes to the Merseyside derby.
Steven Gerrard isn’t completely back yet, and according to Dalglish, he does not want to rush him back into the starting lineup. With the international break on the horizon, it is possible Dalglish could wait until the match on October 15 against Manchester United to unleash ‘Captain Fantastic’ for an extended period, and a likely start. If Liverpool needs a boost, it would be no surprise for Gerrard to come on for the last half hour, but if the match is already won, he will likely get 15 to 20 minutes.
This also could be a perfect time for Craig Bellamy to wreak havoc on the Everton back line, but with the lineups so far this season, it isn’t a shock if Liverpool uses him off of the bench.
Everton need to prove that money doesn’t matter in this match, as the club still hasn’t brought in a transfer in more than two years.
This should be a physical match with a significant amount of yellow cards flying around. Everton may have to heavily rely on their bench in the second half in order to mount a proper challenge on Pepe Reina.
Liverpool lost last year at Goodison 2-0 under Roy Hodgson, and earned a 2-2 draw at home, in Dalglish’s second league match at the helm. It’s probable that Liverpool will not want to repeat the four points it allowed against its blue neighbors this season, as the race four a Champions League spot looks to be quite difficult this season.
Merseyside derby records: Liverpool 82 wins (70 league), Everton 66 wins (57 league) Draws 65 (57 league)
Everton v Liverpool
When: Saturday, October 1245 BST/ 0745 ET
Where: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Table: Liverpool 5th (10 points), Everton 11th (7 points)
Last Premier League Match Liverpool 2-1 Wolves, Man City 2-0 Everton
Projected Everton Starting 11: (5-4-1)
DEF:Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Neville
MF: Coleman, Osman, Rodwell, Fellaini
Bench: Mucha, Heitinga, Bilyadetinov, Drenthe, Stracqualursi, Vellios
Projected Liverpool Starting 11: (4-4-1-1)
DEF: Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique
MF: Henderson, Adam, Lucas, Downing
FW: Suarez, Carroll
Subs: Doni, Coates, Flanagan, Gerrard, Maxi, Spearing, Bellamy