Sunday night. 7 o’clock. Merseyside will fall silent. As everyone will be in their households waiting in huge anticipation for kick off. The Reds against The Toffees. It turns into friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours, family against family, father against son.
It is the beauty of this passion filled emotional city. The love for football is like no other which means the love for rivalry is therefore unmatched. It is a shame that Goodison Park will be nothing like it would have been with fans, but we make do and are grateful that this historical fixture can take place even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
This will be Carlo Ancelotti’s first derby at home after managing his first one at Anfield in what can only be called an embarrassing performance as Everton were beaten by a much weakened Liverpool side ending their hopes of any silverware this campaign.
So, there is no more motivation needed for the Italian’s squad as payback is needed and Ancelotti needs to make a statement. Also, there is the lowkey fact that Everton can delay Liverpool’s title win and every Evertonian would not want nothing more.
We have seen so far with the other
Premier League games that it may take time for sides to get into their stride, but Everton and Liverpool should be ready. Ready for a battle of a lifetime. They know that this fixture is the most important to the locals and if they do not well questions will be asked why they are in the squad.
Everton’s squad have however had several blows coming up to the game with lots of injury doubts. Several weeks ago summer signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who has been injured for the majority of the season, suffered an Achilles injury in training meaning he misses the rest of the season. Vital defender Yerry Mina also suffered an injury in training meaning he will miss the restart so inconsistent Michael Keane will likely start.
As well as this Theo Walcott will be out after undergoing abdominal surgery so that is another man down. Also, Fabian Delph has been confirmed as out for the derby so Everton will be left short in several positions.
The one bit of positive team news for the Everton faithful is that Andre Gomes has been deemed fit enough to play whether that means he will start or not is a different question. Other than Gomes for the two deeper midfield positions it would have to be Tom Davies and Morgan Schneiderlin. The latter is supposedly in negotiations to leave the club so whether he will be up for the fight remains to be seen whereas Davies is a local lad, so he knows how much it matters.
The key for Everton will obviously be their star man Richarlison. The Brazilian has already started the fighting talk which is what every Everton and Liverpool supporter will love. Richarlison decided to take a dig at Virgil Van Dijk saying that ‘there’s others better than him’ and he has ‘dribbled past him’. Getting heated up for the derby it could come back to bite him but it is fantastic to see that he does not want to shy away.
Van Dijk will certainly be starting unless there is a late injury so he will be raring to commence the challenge of making Richarlison look silly by keeping him quiet.
Liverpool’s only injury concern is Xherdan Shaqiri who will be missing the game. The Swiss international has been severely unlucky with injuries all season so it will not be the biggest issue for Jürgen Klopp. The biggest question for the Liverpool line-up is will it be the standard starting eleven or will Klopp throw a surprise in there with the likes of Naby Keita and Minamino having supposedly seriously impressed in recent weeks.
The safest option will be to pick Wijnaldum and Fabinho alongside captain Jordan Henderson in midfield. However before lockdown Fabinho was only just coming back from an injury and looked rusty so it will be interesting to see whether Klopp will go for same old or if he is willing to take a risk to keep up his own excellent personal record against Everton.
The goalkeeper, back four and front three pick themselves as long as there are no injuries as Robertson and Salah did have niggles last week, but Klopp did not say that their respective troubles had worsened. So as always it will be the midfield three which will be the question mark for everyone guessing the team.
Liverpool will want to get one step closer to that first Premier League title so the squad should be as motivated as ever knowing that they can bring such joy to supporters around the world sat at home. However, Liverpool’s record at Goodison Park has not been emphatic in the last decade having only won two.
Everton’s though is certainly not much better as their last win in all competitions in the derby was ten years ago at Goodison beating Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool.
Both teams will therefore be wanting to improve both of their poor respective records which again is even more motivation for both sides to put their strongest performance in.
Everton are fighting for Europe. Liverpool want that title as soon as possible. So where better place to start.
Goodison Park. Seven o’clock. Strap yourselves in.
Written by Elliot Thompson