Throughout history, the Merseyside derby has been a platform for the city’s best talent to capture the imagination of supporters, and the current incarnation will be no different.
At Anfield, Jurgen Klopp calls upon two local lads on a regular basis, while across Stanley Park, Tom Davies has experienced a revival in the absence of Allan.
It gives this derby its colour, and should be embraced as Liverpool and Everton play out their 238th competitive meeting this weekend.
For this clash, Klopp has fewer decisions to make than heading into many other games this season, and this can be seen as both a positive and a negative.
Klopp faces a relatively straightforward process when it comes to team selection, largely due to the continued absence of Fabinho.
Alisson is fit and available despite rumours to the contrary, while Naby Keita could be part of the matchday squad for the first time since December 19 after recovering from a hamstring injury and, more recently, illness.
Fabinho‘s unavailability makes it almost certain that Jordan Henderson will partner Ozan Kabak at centre-back, with Jones’ imperious display against RB Leipzig in midweek surely making him a go-to starter in midfield.
Liverpool’s XI for the derby
In predicting the Reds’ lineup for Saturday, there is only really one possibility.
Jones and Thiago can patrol as the two No. 8s, despite the availability of Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri, while derby hero Divock Origi should be overlooked as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all start.
This would see no changes made from midweek – which is feasible, given there are three clear days between fixtures – and shapes up as below:
However, there are certain tweaks Klopp could consider if he were to spring a surprise on long-time adversary Carlo Ancelotti.
This is informed by a variety of options in defence, midfield and attack, with Liverpool in a strong position despite Fabinho, Milner and Jota all being out.
Klopp could, in theory, opt for:
- Phillips alongside Kabak to combat the aerial threat of Dominic Calvert-Lewin
- Shaqiri or Origi to join the attacking unit and take the fight to Everton
- Oxlade-Chamberlain to start ahead of Jones as Klopp rotates his No. 17
- A surprise outing for Keita after a lengthy rehabilitation process
All of those options are unlikely, however, as Klopp will look to keep momentum after a dominant showing against Leipzig and play his strongest possible side in a must-win tie.
The influence of his two Scousers could prove key, as though the emotion of October’s 2-2 draw should be put aside, Liverpool need to be aggressive and front-footed against their rivals.