Liverpool vs Everton | Wednesday 20 April | Anfield | 20:50
The 194th league meeting between Merseyside rivals, Liverpool and Everton, is set to take place on Wednesday evening. And with both managers desperate to get one over their local rivals, this promises to be a feisty affair.
The Reds come into this game off the back of some excellent victories and look to be firm favourites for the clash while Everton have struggled to make their mark all season. As is always the case, you can discard the formbook for this derby and expect the challenges to fly in as both teams fight ferociously for local pride.
To Win Match
Liverpool 15/20 | Draw 28/10 | Everton 7/2
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side definitely seem to have turned a corner in recent weeks. A solid showing against Spurs at the start of the month was followed up by a 4-1 hammering of Stoke City.
Things got even better for the Reds last week as they managed to grab a memorable 5-4 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund in a midweek Europa League tie. They followed that up with a dominant display against Bournemouth at the weekend.
The Reds now have to be considered one of the form teams in the league, having only suffered one defeat in their last 10 games. They’ll be confident enough heading into this tie with their cross-town rivals knowing that a win could see their faint hopes of a top four finish become more of a reality.
That said, Klopp definitely sees the Europa League as his side’s best chance of getting into Europe’s premier club competition, and as such, will likely give one or two of the kids a run against the Evertonians. Their academy showed that there is a bright future in-store for Liverpool fans this past weekend, with a few of the lads really catching the eye against the South Coasters.
Sheyi Ojo impressed the most. The young winger had the beating of his full-back all day, surging to the byline with frightening regularity. It was, however, the experienced heads that put their hands up highest, though, with Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino bagging the Reds’ two goals.
Sturridge was particularly good on the day as he claimed a goal and a magical assists to set up Roberto Firmino for Liverpool’s first. The England centre-forward attempted an outrageous back-heel was saved by Artur Boruc, only for Firmino to capitalise; helping himself to a tap in. Sturridge would go on to claim Liverpool’s second goal of the match with a neatly taken header before Josh King pulled one back for the Cherries late on in the piece.
Looking ahead, I’m fairly sure that Klopp will bring back the likes of Coutinho, Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, James Milner and Adam Lallana against their local rivals, but I think Ojo may feature after such an impeccable display .
The Reds will be without midfield duo of Jordan Henderson and Emre Can for this fixture. Divok Origi has a slight back strain and should be ready for the Newcastle game while Kolo Toure also picked up a minor knock in the win against the Cherries.
Let’s be honest for a minute here, for a squad that contains so much talent, Everton have been pretty woeful this season. They currently sit in eleventh place on the log and are closer – in terms of points – to the relegation zone than they are to Arsenal in fourth position.
Roberto Martinez and his side haven’t won in five attempts in all competitions, drawing their last three league games at home against Southampton and away to Crystal Palace and Watford. The side – with the exception of Romelu Lukaku – simply haven’t lived up to the high standards they’ve set themselves over the last few seasons. One feels that should Martinez fail to deliver the FA Cup this term, he could be in a little bit of trouble.
Looking ahead, the Toffees will have to get the job done against Liverpool without the likes of Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Aaron Lennon, Phil Jagielka and Tom Cleverly who are all out injured.
Coleman and Baines, in particular, will be missed by the Evertonians who will do well to keep Liverpool’s dangerous wingers quiet. Whether or not youngster, Callum Connolly and the attack-minded Bryan Oviedo can stop the service into Liverpool’s frontmen remains to be seen.
The one area that Everton will look to hurt Liverpool is with their set piece. The aerial ability of the likes of Lukaku, John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori will be a threat against a Liverpool side who have conceded a boatload of goals from corners and free kicks this season.
Verdict: Liverpool to win + both teams to score: Yes at 23/10
Looking at recent form, Liverpool should have very little trouble dispatching this out of sorts Everton side on Wednesday evening. That said, their defensive fragilities at the set piece – which have been exposed time and again this season – will likely see Everton grab themselves a goal, especially with the aerial ability of Lukaku to worry about.