The international break is over and Liverpool are back in action—in the Merseyside derby. Here’s everything you need to know about Everton.
Premier League form: W-D-W-L-W-W
League position: 7th
Last win: 4-0 vs. Hull City, March 18
Away: Won four, drawn four, lost six
Everton have proven extremely adaptable under Ronald Koeman, playing a variety of tactical systems from a 4-3-3 base.
Depending on who they use in the offensive midfield roles, it can be a very wide 4-1-4-1, a narrow 4-3-2-1 or even revert to a double pivot in the centre.
At home they are formidable; on the road it has been somewhat less so, winning just one of their last five away from Goodison Park.
Everton can certainly be easy on the eye at times, but there’s an aggressive undertone to their play which we can expect to be on full display in the derby.
Morgan Schneiderlin was a tremendous signing to add quality and resilience to the midfield line; between he and Idrissa Gana Gueye there’s plenty of athleticism to go with their quick approach of getting the ball into the final third.
It would be a surprise to see the Toffees attempt to dominate possession, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stand off.
They’re in the faces of the opposition, will press aggressively in the middle third and put challenges in wherever possible.
Everton rank second in the league for most tackles made this season, and midfielder Gueye is top of that stat on an individual level.
As if we really needed to point it out, Premier League top goalscorer Romelu Lukaku is something of a threat.
He has 21 this season, averages a goal every 117 minutes of league play and has already been a thorn in Liverpool’s side previously. He’s a man in form, with 10 in his last seven for club and country.
It’s not just Lukaku to focus on; attacking midfielders Ross Barkley and Tom Davies have found form of late too.
Between them they run beyond Lukaku on the counter, will switch up the channels they operate in and can deliver a good cross.
The biggest danger of all from Liverpool’s perspective is that Koeman has instilled in his midfielders the willingness and the bravery to make runs from deep.
On the counter or in buildup play, Everton are not afraid to flood the box, particularly with crosses or cut-backs being met by onrushing players from the second line of attack.
3 Keys to Victory
Injuries mean Emre Can or Lucas Leiva will likely start in the deepest midfield role, but all three in the centre simply must follow those runs and not slack off.
If Everton have Barkley, Lukaku and Davies forward and Schneiderlin, Gueye or Gareth Barry break from deep too, the defence simply won’t be able to cope.
Track back, all the way, no being lazy. It will count for a lot this time.
In every sense of the word: positionally against counters, concentration from set-pieces and, most of all, with regards to the team’s temperament.
Nobody needs a reminder about how often red cards are shown in the derby and Liverpool have to make sure they aren’t the ones who overstep the mark.
Quite aside from going down to 10 men in the match itself, Jurgen Klopp is running short on manpower as it is without suspensions affecting his selections further.
Such an old complaint, but such a pertinent one. In the last six Premier League games alone, Liverpool have had a monstrous 97 shots…but scored only nine times, one of which was a penalty.
To be clear, it’s not the worst strike rate around, but it certainly should have yielded more goals (and thus points) than it has done.
Against Everton, the Reds can’t really be affording to need a dozen shots to register a strike, particularly if they don’t hold firm at the back.
With no Adam Lallana or Jordan Henderson, someone really needs to step up for the Reds in midfield in terms of both winning the ball back and helping surge forward at pace.
It’s time for Can to prove just how much he merits that new contract.
Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori both picked up injuries on international duty. Yannick Bolasie is out for the season and Schneiderlin and James McCarthy are doubts.
Possible XI: Joel; Holgate, Jagielka, Williams, Baines; Barry, Gueye; Barkley, Davies, Calvert-Lewin; Lukaku