Merseyside Derby Preview: Liverpool v Everton

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Liverpool host local rivals Everton in the first Merseyside derby of the season at Anfield in Saturday’s early kick-off. Ben Twelves looks ahead to the grudge match.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 23, 2013: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Everton's manager Roberto Martinez before the 221st Merseyside Derby Premiership match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers’ Reds will be looking to make it two wins in a week at Anfield on Saturday when they face their first derby of the season against city rivals, Everton.

The Reds are desperate to find some form in the Premier League, having suffered two disappointing defeats in a row and 3 in total from the first 5 league games of the new season. There’s no more important time to turn fortunes around than Saturday’s derby fixture.

However, somewhat thankfully for both sides heading into this game, form is likely to go out of the window as ever with the high tempo, all-action clashes of which for the first time since the 2002/03 season, will be played at Anfield first up rather than Goodison Park.

Last season’s corresponding fixture was much more memorable than the 0-0 played out that day in December 2002, and proved to be one of the most unforgettable derby games in recent times, as the Reds thrashed Roberto Martinez’s side 4-0 to begin their assault on the Premier League title.

Steven Gerrard opened the scoring and Daniel Sturridge added two more before half time to hand Liverpool a resounding 3-0 lead at the interval. Luis Suarez then scored a magnificent solo goal to make it 4-0, before Sturridge wasted the chance to record a special derby hat-trick firing his penalty over the bar and into the Kop.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, January 28, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge scores the second goal against Everton during the 222nd Merseyside Derby Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Team News

Joe Allen, Emre Can, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan are all ruled due to on-going injuries but Rodgers will desperately be hoping to have some of his first choice players suffering with injury back in time of the clash.

The Liverpool manager confirmed that he is set to afford maximum recovery time to players whose fitness is touch and go, meaning some late decisions will be made over the starting team, with Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho – who both missed Tuesday’s cup tie – and Daniel Sturridge all hoping to be fit in time

Despite injuries, there’s set to be wholesale changes to the side that limped to a shoot-out victory over Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, with Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Steven Gerrard and Mario Balotelli all likely to be recalled to the starting XI after they sat out against Middlesbrough.

Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic will all be hopeful of retaining their place in the starting XI, supporting Balotelli in the Liverpool attack.

Rodgers also confirmed that contract talks with representatives of talented Spanish attacker Suso are continuing, and the 20-year-old will be hoping to build on his goal in midweek by featuring in the squad once again.

 

Opposition

Liverpool’s title storyline irrelevant for Everton and Roberto `Martinez

As with Liverpool, Martinez’s side have also endured a disappointingly slow start to the league season. The Blues have one less point to show from their opening 5 games than Rodgers’ men, having won only 1 game as they currently occupy 14th place in the table.

The Toffees arrive at Anfield off the back of a 3-0 defeat and subsequent League Cup exit to Swansea, as Martinez rotated his side against his old club ahead of Saturday’s game. £28 million man Romelu Lukaku was benched as were fellow regulars Kevin Mirallas and James McCarthy.

Steven Naismith, John Stones, Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry and Leighton Baines were all left out of the squad of completely making them all extremely likely to be recalled to the team on Saturday.

However, Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar are doubts for the match and the Everton boss has confirmed that both will be assessed in the lead up to the clash.

Everton will be hoping to break their long standing Anfield duck of having not recorded victory in a derby fixture away from home since 1999, but the Blues may have to improve on having the worst defensive record in the Premier League – having conceded 13 goals in 5 games – if they want to do so.

Liverpool v Everton will be shown live on Sky Sports 1 with kick-off at 12:45pm.

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