Brendan Rodgers’ Reds face their nearest and dearest on Sunday afternoon in the first derby clash of the season. We preview the match and take a look at how Liverpool could line up against the Blues.
The Reds arrive in a period of desperate struggle having won just one of their last eight matches, and the fixture has a make-or-break feeling for Rodgers after the disappointing Europa stalemate against FC Sion, with the Northern Irishman needing to prove that a Premier League upturn awaits after beating Aston Villa last weekend.
Martinez says Everton's confidence "has gone through the roof" after their comeback win against WBA on Monday.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) October 2, 2015
A confident Goodison Park lies in waiting for Rodgers’ side with Roberto Martinez’s men in good form having tasted defeat only once this season, as well as being unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions, and the Blues will fancy their chances of claiming a first derby day victory since 2010 against the faltering Reds.
Form often goes out of the window for the frenetic derby clashes meaning nothing can be taken for certain, but one thing that can is that under-fire Rodgers will be desperate to avoid a first defeat against Everton in the most crucial period of his Anfield tenure, as the Reds boss looks to extend Liverpool’s current 10 game unbeaten run against their neighbours.
Rodgers: "It's another opportunity to get a victory. We respect that it will be a tough game. It's one we want to win for our supporters."
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) October 2, 2015
Injuries are set to give the squad a familiar look with Jon Flanagan, Dejan Lovren, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino all still out, but Christian Benteke is set to be assessed over the next 24-hours and could return to involvement at Goodison Park.
Rodgers’ ability to rotate is restricted to a degree thanks to those injuries, but the Liverpool manager could make as many as seven changes to the team that started the second Europa League draw at Anfield on Thursday night.
Martin Skrtel, James Milner, Lucas Leiva and Daniel Sturridge are all set to be recalled to the starting team, with the quartet set to provide fresh legs after other first choice picks disappointingly played as the Reds attempted to salvage a much needed victory in another poor display.
Mamadou Sakho came off the bench for the final 15 minutes in the stalemate and the Frenchman is poised to come back in from the beginning, while Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno, who played half each, appear certain to continue at wing-back, with Jordon Ibe doing nothing to stake a claim for a start on Sunday.
Adam Lallana will hope his goal and positive all-round display on Thursday sees him keep his starting shirt, but with Philippe Coutinho, Sturridge and Danny Ings all preferred options currently, the 27-year-old could drop back to the bench.
Rodgers on Sturridge: "Top players give the rest of the team confidence, it's a massive boost for us."
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) October 2, 2015
The Liverpool XI
Despite profligacies at both ends of the pitch, Rodgers is likely to stick to three at the back against Martinez’s side, but a number of changes are expected to materialise with the starting team.
The first of the two choices is to operate with chief-creator Coutinho playing in support of strike duo Ings and Sturridge, with Lallana dropping back to the bench despite an improved showing last time out.
Those changes to the XI would see the Reds start with the same team that begun the 3-2 win against Villa and therefore line up like this at Goodison:
Alternatively, Rodgers could opt to deploy a two-one attacking shape, with two creative midfielders and one striker, instead of going with two up front.
That would see the Liverpool leader bring Lallana back in to the Premier League fold after he impressed again on the European stage, and the 27-year-old could play alongside Coutinho with the creative pair working in support of Sturridge, relegating Ings, who played an hour against Sion, to the bench.
The slight adjustment to the Reds’ attacking shape could see Liverpool line up looking like this come 1:30pm kick-off time:
Liverpool have not suffered derby day defeat since under Roy Hodgson in 2010, and after reminding everyone in his pre-match press-conference that he has yet to lose to the Blues in his time at Anfield, Rodgers must ensure they’re don’t prove to be infamous last words.
Pick your XI: