By Christopher Boulay
The two top division clubs on Merseyside rekindle their rivalry for the 219th time on Sunday. With the displays of solidarity by the Everton faithful in recent weeks regarding the release of information on the Hillsborough disaster, there may be more of a unified feeling in the stands. However, expect the happenings on the pitch to be as tense as ever.
While Liverpool dominated recent meetings against Everton, there is an argument to be made that the momentum is shifting toward the blue side of the city. The Toffees are flying to start this year’s Premier League campaign. Removing a disappointing exit in the League Cup against Leeds United at Elland Road, there cannot be much to complain about from the Evertonians. Currently fifth in the table, manager David Moyes’ bargain bin acquisitions have worked wonders. It is still far too early in the season to know how far this club can go, but for now, there is every reason for their supporters to feel optimistic.
Liverpool’s start hasn’t been nearly as impressive as its neighbor’s, but the results are starting to show. Despite an already thin squad marred by injuries, manager Brendan Rodgers’ project looks to be paying dividends. A home win last week against Reading in the league, coupled with a win against Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in Europa League, helped give the Anfield faithful a reason to smile after a rough start. If Rodgers can navigate the side to victory in his first Merseyside derby – and first trip to Goodison Park – talk about a successful season may begin from the supporters and the media.
The Toffees will be without Steven Pienaar, who was sent off against Queens Park Rangers last week. Additionally, Darren Gibson likely will be out of the squad, as he has not yet recovered from his thigh injury. However, Belgian international Marouane Fellaini will likely be fit to take part in the derby, which could complicate Liverpool’s plans. The 24-year-old developed into one of the toughest midfielders in the Premier League since signing from Standard Liege in 2008, and could easily be the difference-maker for the Toffees.
Beyond the long-term absences, Liverpool may still be without Pepe Reina, who could miss a third consecutive match with a hamstring issue. While initially noted as a minor issue, Reina’s injury kept him out of the squad for more than one week. However, understudy Brad Jones played well in two relief appearances between the posts, accruing clean sheets in both matches.
Liverpool likely needs a strong match from Luis Suarez, but expects Steven Gerrard to play a significant role. The boyhood Liverpool supporter participated in 27 Merseyside derbies, scoring eight goals, according to lfcstats.co.uk. His last match in the league against Everton was especially fruitful, as he scored a hat trick in a 3-0 rout.
You can watch the match in the United States on ESPN2 or ESPN3.com. PLEASE NOTE: Daylight Saving Time ends in the United Kingdom on Sunday October, 28. However, This does not occur throughout the eastern United States (as well as most of the country) until November 4. This shortens the time difference to four hours from the East Coast to the UK during that period.
If you are in the greater Boston area, you will be able to watch the match at The Phoenix Landing with LFC Boston.
Liverpool v Everton
When: Sunday, October 28, 0930 EST/1330 GMT
Where: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Previous Premier League match: Liverpool 1-0 Reading, QPR 1-1 Everton
League Position 2011-12: Liverpool 13th (9 points), Everton 5th (15 points)
Projected Everton Starting 11
DEF: Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman
MID: Mirallas, Neville, Fellaini, Osman, Naismith
Subs from: Mucha, Heitinga, Kennedy, Garbutt, Oveido, Gueye, Anichebe, Duffy, Hitzlsperger, Vellios
Projected Liverpool Starting 11
DEF: Wisdom, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson
MID: Gerrard, Allen, Sahin
FW: Sterling, Suarez, Suso
Subs from: Reina, Gulacsi, Flanagan, Enrique, Coates, Carragher, Robinson, Cole, Henderson, Shelvey, Downing, Assaidi, Morgan, Yesil
Interact: What’s your projected lineup and final score prediction? Comment below.