With Saturday’s Merseyside derby fast approaching, what is the best possible combined starting XI between current Liverpool and Everton players? Henry Jackson selects his: do you agree?
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GK- TIM HOWARD (Everton)
The 34-year-old has been an excellent servant to Everton since his move from Manchester United in 2007, and perhaps doesn’t always get the credit he deserves.
RB- GLEN JOHNSON (Liverpool)
Although Seamus Coleman is having a good season at Goodison Park, there can be no question that Johnson is the better player.
His importance to the Liverpool side was highlighted in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal recently, where is absence left the Reds hugely lacking down the right hand side of the pitch.
His presence gives the Reds an extra attacking dimension to their game, with the 29-year-old combining pace, power and trickery to great effect. Johnson is also vastly improved defensively, and the argument that he can’t defend is a lazy one.
CB- PHIL JAGIELKA (Everton)
The 31-year-old has matured into a top defender in the last couple of years, and is now England’s first choice centre-back heading into next summer’s World Cup.
The Toffees’ captain is very consistent, and his partnership with Sylvain Distin had been rock solid for a number of years now. He will have his work cut out against Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge on Saturday, but he often saves his better performances for the big games.
CB- DANIEL AGGER (Liverpool)
Both sides are blessed with some top defenders, including Distin, Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel, but Agger is the best of the bunch.
He has rid himself of the constant injury problems that plagued him in his younger years, and is now at his peak. Cool and composed on the ball, but also much better at the gritty defensive work than he used to be, the Reds vice-captain is a top class player who could go on to skipper the Reds one day.
LB- LEIGHTON BAINES (Everton)
The 28-year-old is terrific going forward and his final ball is second to none. Likewise, his set piece delivery is exceptional and contributes to a decent percentage of Everton‘s goals. He is now closer than ever to replacing Ashley Cole as first choice left-back for England.
The boyhood Liverpool fan is a player the Reds are crying out for, with respect to Jose Enrique and Aly Cissokho.
DM- GARETH BARRY (Everton)
Although a very unspectacular midfield player, he has vast experience now and is good at reading the game and breaking up opposition attacks. His presence in the midfield allows the more talented attacking players to push forward and not worry too much about what’s happening behind them.
He gets the nod ahead of Lucas because of current form.
DM- STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool)
The Reds skipper is still a magnificent player, and on his day remains one of the most influential players around.
His record in Merseyside derbies is exceptional, scoring eight times, and he is a player Everton will always fear. The 33-year-old may have lost the pace and dynamism that made him the best midfielder in the world four or five years ago, but he still has plenty left in the tank in a Liverpool shirt.
AM- PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Liverpool)
The brilliant Brazilian has been a gem of a signing by Brendan Rodgers, and at just 21 years of age he will only get better in the coming years.
Prodigiously gifted on the ball, whether it be dribbling to passing, Coutinho has the rare ability to turn a game on its head in an instant. He is still finding his top form and fitness levels since injury, but will still be a key man on Saturday.
FW- LUIS SUAREZ (Liverpool)
On current form Suarez is the best player in the Premier League, and has been absolutely sensational since his return from suspension in September.
The 26-year-old is a phenomenal talent, and was denied a hat-trick in last season’s game at Goodison after an incorrect offside decision in the last minute. The Uruguayan has all the talent in the world, but his work rate and winners mentality make him even more special.
FW- DANIEL STURRIDGE (Liverpool)
Sturridge has been a revelation since moving to Anfield in January, scoring 21 goals in just 28 appearances for the club.
The 24-year-old has formed a superb partnership with Suarez, and the level of his finishing has been terrific. His sensational chip against West Brom earlier this month was a great example of someone at the top of their game.
The former Chelsea man’s game has gone up a notch since joining Liverpool, and he seems to have learned to be less selfish and to work harder. His electric pace and quick feet make him a match for any defender on his day.
ST- ROMELU LUKAKU (Everton)
On this season’s evidence, quite why Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho sent Lukaku out on loan is baffling. The 20-year-old has been a huge player for Everton this season, finding the net five times in eight games.
It’s not just goals that make him important though. He is a terrific target man, much in the mould of Didier Drogba, and his partnership in attack with exciting youngster Ross Barkley will be something Liverpool have to nullify on Saturday.
Who would you have in your combined Liverpool and Everton XI? Where do you disagree with me?