Liverpool vs. Everton
Wednesday 20th April 2016, 20:00 (GMT)
Referee: Robert Madley
Following the mayhem of the Reds’ unforgettable 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund last Thursday, things were more comfortable over the weekend.
It is Everton who await next, and while it may not be the most eagerly-anticipated Merseyside derby in recent times, there’s still plenty to play for for each side.
Liverpool’s recent form is becoming increasingly formidable under Klopp, with just one Premier League defeat in their last eight outings.
Even that was the rather freakish 3-2 defeat at Southampton last month, in a game that the Reds dominated for 45 minutes.
The quality of football that the Merseysiders are producing is consistently good, and as the two-legged win over Dortmund proved, they are a match for anyone on their day.
Victory over Everton would be Liverpool’s third league victory in a row, as they look to keep their current momentum going.
The Toffees have not enjoyed an impressive season at all in the league, and pressure is now cranking up on Roberto Martinez.
That competition is their one saving grace this season, with Man United awaiting in the semi-finals at Wembley this weekend. Martinez and his players could have more than one eye on that game when they arrive at Anfield.
The goals of Romelu Lukaku have been one of the few bright notes of a rather insipid campaign, with Ross Barkley and John Stones also impressing for large parts.
Form Guide (Last 10 games)
This is a fixture that Liverpool have very much dominated down the years, with Everton looking for their first win at Anfield since 1999.
Kevin Campbell scored the only goal of the game that night, with a young Steven Gerrard also sent-off for a rash challenge on the striker. Sander Westerveld and Francis Jeffers also saw red.
In last season’s Anfield showdown, the two sides battled out a 1-1 draw, with Phil Jagielka’s last-gasp stunner cancelling out Gerrard’s opener.
The year before, Brendan Rodgers’ side had dismantled the Toffees 4-0, thanks to Sturridge’s double and further efforts from Luis Suarez and Gerrard.
The corresponding game at Goodison Park back in October, which proved to be Rodgers’ final game in the Anfield hot-seat, ended in a 1-1 draw.
Danny Ings opened the scoring with a close-range header, but Lukaku punished some poor Liverpool defending to level the scores before half-time.
Everton have not beaten the Reds home or away since October 2010, when Roy Hodgson’s woeful side were downed 2-0, thanks to goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.
The red half of Merseyside will be hoping their strong recent run doesn’t come to an abrupt halt on Wednesday evening.
Klopp has no major new injury concerns ahead of the match, with key players rested for the Bournemouth game, and those who did feature coming through unscathed.
Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Christian Benteke will all be missing for the next month or so – they may not feature again this season – but Kolo Toure will likely miss Wednesday’s game after hobbling off against the Cherries.
Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi may all be recalled to the starting line-up, as well as Klopp’s first-choice back-line of Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno.
Whether Sunday’s goalscorers Firmino and Sturridge get the nod remains to be seen, with plenty of competition in attacking areas.
Seamus Coleman will miss the derby with a hamstring injury, as Martinez’s injury woes continue ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against United.
Jagielka and Tom Cleverley are also out, while key duo Leighton Baines and Aaron Lennon are rated as doubtful to start proceedings at Anfield.
Martinez has to weigh up his options, considering the importance of the FA Cup to his side, but resting players against their biggest rivals is surely unthinkable for the Spaniard.
Neither starting eleven is easy to predict for the game, and there will no doubt be a few surprises in both line-ups prior to kick-off.
What the Managers Say
Ahead of the game, Klopp has called for cool heads, saying:
“A red card can happen if you are a second too late but not because you want to show ‘I am the man’.
“I understand aggressiveness only one way and that’s being prepared to hurt yourself and not somebody else.
“The best football is always full of emotion, passion and aggressiveness: legal aggressiveness.
“To handle emotions and the pressure, that’s one of the big challenges in top-class football.
“We played Manchester United, I don’t know if Everton is the biggest game or United is, but we handled it really good.
“That’s what I expect from this game too – that everybody sees from the first second on that we want to win this game. But with football.”
Martinez insists he’ll play a strong XI despite the FA Cup semi-final at the weekend:
“We are going to be as strong as we can be.
“I don’t think you can switch on and off.
“You have to perform well before you go to a semi-final, create a competitive nature in every game. We will get that from players coming back from suspension and injury.”
Odds & TV Info
Liverpool are understandably favourites to register another victory over their local adversaries, considering their recent record against them, and the fact they are at home.
Klopp’s men are 1.75 to pick up all three points on Wednesday, while the Toffees are 4.6 to win at Anfield for the first time in 17 years. The draw is priced at 3. Read more about betting with Betway here.
Sturridge is the 10/3 favourite to score first, which may suggest he will keep his place in the team, while in-form Origi is 11/2 to open the scoring.
Lukaku is the man Liverpool need to be fearful of, with the Belgium international also 11/2 to strike first on the night.
Both teams to score is 7/10, which looks a good bet, considering both sides can be a little error-prone at the back on their day.
The match is live on Sky Sports 1, with coverage starting at 7:30pm (GMT). Kick-off is at 8pm.