By Matt Gomersall
The fire in the belly of the Merseyside derby is burning once more with this seasons clash having the potential to be the hottest of them all.
The game is set to take place on Saturday 17th October’s kicking off at 12:30pm.
Aston Villa’s 7-2 demolishing of Liverpool made the ‘wrong kind of history’ last weekend, meaning the Reds are looking for redemption. And what better way to do it than beating local rivals Everton at their own stomping ground.
However, their defensive frailties are in question after conceding 11 goals in the first 4 games of the season, a third of the goals conceded in the whole of last season.
Meanwhile, the mood in the blue camp of Merseyside is the polar opposite to the reds. The revived Everton side have the best form in the league with 4 straight wins.
The Toffees have the benefit of having the leagues top goal scorer, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, spear-heading their attack as well as experienced winner Carlo Ancelotti aiming for a Champions League place.
There aren’t many things that cast over the Merseyside derby but Coronavirus and the silence of empty stadiums certainly grabbed the headlines.
The second derby of the 2019/20 season ended goalless but more importantly marked the return of the Premier League after a 94-day absence in England due to Coronavirus.
The history books will tell you that Everton haven’t won in the last 22 matches against their bitter rivals. With their last win dating back to a 2-0 victory in October 2010 at Goodison Park.
Everton fans will believe they are in the best form possible to end this horrific run that plagues their reputation in Merseyside.
If they manage to beat Liverpool, fans will start to see past the doom and gloom of the last 15 years and start to believe they can topple Liverpool and finish above them for the first time since the 2004/05 season.
This season has seen some incredible score lines, the most obvious being Liverpool’s 7-2 loss, but also Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 drumming of Manchester United.
Liverpool have been scoring goals at the incredible average of 5.50 goals per game while Everton are close behind with an also impressive 4.25 average.
You would have to cast your mind back to 1932-33 for the highest scoring Merseyside derby, which ended with Liverpool winning 7-4 at Anfield.
Manager Jurgen Klopp will forever be a legend in Liverpool history after bringing the Premier League title home after a painful 30-year wait. His ability to assert his dominance over their local rivals is another reason for his popularity among fans.
Klopp has secured 7 wins out of 11 against Everton since his arrival in October 2015, giving him a strong advantage going into this year’s clash.
Carlo Ancelotti is a novice compared to the loveable German, in comparison. Having only one Merseyside derby to fall back on which ended in an uninspiring 0-0 draw.
Ancelotti’s stellar reputation throughout Europe will help him install a winning mentality in his team. A powerful tactical battle between the two giants is inevitable.
Despite only 10% of matches being played so far, this derby has a detrimental impact on both teams positions in the league.
Everton will be striving for a perfect 5 match winning streak and to remain top of the Premier League, something that Everton fans will hope to be saying long into the season.
Liverpool can use this game as a springboard to help propel their season into the same realm as last season where they were crowned Premier League Champions.
Missing goalkeeper Alisson for 6 weeks has already proven costly, so Klopp needs to find a solution to his leaky defence quickly. The remainder of the once impenetrable back line also need to regain their form if they are to stand a chance of winning back to back titles.
Liverpool’s famous front three; Mane, Firmino, Salah have terrorised defences across the world, but Everton’s strike force has seemed more deadly so far this campaign.
Richarlison, Calvert Lewin and Rodriguez, have gelled brilliantly and have 10 goals and 4 assists between them. Calvert Lewin has earned himself an England call up after an impressive start to the season.
Diogo Jota was drafted in to help increase The Red’s chance conversion, with the Liverpool trio having 8 goals and 2 assists between them.
The Liverpool board are known for precise transfer business, but fans will be scratching their heads wondering whether spending big money on known talent will solve their poor start.
With Champions League football being introduced into the sporting calendar this month, Liverpool’s focus unfortunately can’t only be on regaining places in the Premier League.
Top teams will have to juggle midweek games and travelling around Europe, which will put strain on many players who are regular starters.
Arguably Liverpool have a comfortable run facing; Everton, Ajax, Sheffield, FC Midtjylland and West Ham. This run of games will enable the squad to regain form and focus on ironing out the problems.
Everton have a great opportunity to extend their winning run as they face a month on the road, facing; Southampton, Newcastle and Fulham away from home.
Fans will expect results from those fixtures but will also want their team to capitalise on Liverpool and Manchester United’s poor run of form.
It can be said if Everton have a successful October then the footballing world will have to consider them genuine title contenders this season. But we are all aware Liverpool will want to rain on their parade and stop their good run in its tracks.