We preview Saturday's Merseyside Derby between Liverpool and Everton, which is being played at Anfield.The latest edition of the Merseyside derby is going to tell us much about the character of both these sides. Ronald Koeman’s Toffees will be tested by the absence of influential Seamus Coleman - whose double leg break playing for Northern Ireland will have left Koeman apoplectic.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have their own injury concerns and are deeply embroiled in one of the most fascinating top four challenges in recent times. Everton will feel that a victory here - which would be their first at Anfield since 1999 - would put them well into European contention in their own right.
Liverpool v Everton | Saturday 1 April | Anfield | 13:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Liverpool 13/20 | Draw 28/10 | Everton 38/10
Jurgen Klopp will likely be without catlike Lallana’s attacking dexterity for about four weeks following an injury sustained on international duty. He also is sweating on the fitness of midfield lynchpin Jordan Henderson and it would seem rather foolish to risk the fitness of their captain if he weren’t one hundred percent fit. Additionally, Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino would have only reported back after international duty Wednesday morning, meaning some of Liverpool's stars may struggle in the latter parts of Saturday's fixture.
Having said that, Liverpool have managed to lift their performance every time that a big occasion has come to pass. The possible absence of Henderson may mean that Firmino drops back to fill the hole vacated by Lallana. Alternatively, Klopp could revert to a 4-2-3-1, with Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum holding and Divock Origi leading the line. Everton have several major issues with their squad and the Reds will feel confident of continuing their recent hegemony over the blue half of Liverpool.
Not only do Everton have to navigate the absence of the massively important Seamus Coleman, but James McCarthy aggravated a pre-existing injury on international duty, much to the chagrin of Ronald Koeman. Additionally, it looks as if Morgan Schneiderlin is also set to miss out. This may mean a bit of a rethink in terms of formation, with Gareth Barry unlikely to operate as effectively as the holding player in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Young Mason Holgate will come in for Coleman, and one wonders if Koeman may feel the urge to switch to a back three - deploying Holgate in a more advanced wing-back position, thereby negating his defensive importance by some degree.
I think that Koeman will opt against that and go with a variation on a 4-3-3 formation, knowing that Liverpool may lack some defensive edge. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has shown potential while Tom Davies has been sensational. Idrissa Gueye could prove to be the dominant force in the midfield while Romelu Lukaku is clearly the most potent attacking threat in the Everton side. Ross Barkley is going to need to make himself more present in the big games and may find more space here if Henderson doesn’t start.
Verdict: Liverpool 13/20
Wow, this one is so delicately poised, especially with the injuries and injury clouds hovering over both squads. But I still think that the Reds will have the edge. The fact that Everton haven’t won at Anfield since 1999 says volumes about the dominance of Liverpool in this fixture. There have been far worse Liverpool sides than this one. Also, the injury issues facing Everton are more fundamental and should impact them more.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets