Liverpool play their final fixture before Christmas on Monday, and it’s only the small matter of an away trip to Everton.
Indeed, the first Merseyside Derby of the season again falls away from Anfield, whilst there’s also the intriguing tactical battle sure to come from Ronald Koeman and Jürgen Klopp’s first face off in this grand old fixture.
Match: Everton vs Liverpool
Stadium: Goodison Park
Date: Monday 19th January
Time: 20:00 BST
Referee: Mike Dean
The Reds appeared to have put a couple of bad results behind them after beating Aitor Karanka’s Boro 3-0 on Teeside, but another three points would go a long way to extinguishing doubts raised over the previous loss to Bournemouth and draw to West Ham.
Overall, Liverpool have still managed three wins in their last six Premier League games, but 11 points from 18 isn’t title winning form, especially with Chelsea (who have won 10 in a row at the time of writing) potential nine points clear at the time of kick-off in this clash. Klopp’s men can’t go any higher than they are currently with a win, but will most likely have fallen below their current place of second when the whistle goes at 8PM on Monday.
Similarly to the Reds, Everton come into the game having arrested some poor form with a midweek win themselves, having beaten Arsenal 2-1 thanks to a late Ashley Williams winner at Goodison Park on Tuesday. Before that though, the Blues hadn’t won in six Premier League games, including taking a 5-0 hammering at Chelsea.
The Toffees’ home form is solid, with Koeman’s men unbeaten so far in the league at Goodison, having played the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Can Liverpool be the first to win there?
Liverpool’s team news is all about people who could return, rather than fresh or long term injuries. Philippe Coutinho remains out with an ankle injury, whilst Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo are still working their way back from injury. Gomez did travel to Middlesbrough last Wednesday, but wasn’t named in the 18-man squad. The real news comes from one defender, one midfielder and one attacker. Joel Matip is hoping to shake off a persistent ankle injury that saw Ragnar Klavan partner Dejan Lovren in the win over Boro’, whilst Emre Can too looks likely to secure a place on the bench, minimum.
Divock Origi’s fine goalscoring form will keep Daniel Sturridge out of the starting 11, but it would be a boost to see the Englishman return to the bench after missing the last three through injury. At the back, Klopp confirmed in his Friday press-conference that Simon Mignolet will continue in goal, ahead of Loris Karius.
Phil Jagielka’s late red card against Arsenal means that Ramiro Funes Mori could line up against Divock Origi, who’s ankle he broke last season. Elsewhere for the Blues, Yannick Bolasie is sidelined with a long term knee injury, whilst there are no fresh injury worries.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Firmino, Origi.
Everton Predicted XI: Stekelenburg; Coleman, Funes-Mori, Williams, Baines; Barry, Gueye, Barkley; Deulofeu, Valencia, Lukaku.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
The last Merseyside Derby was fun, to say the least. Everton barely turned up, and Liverpool stormed to a 4-0 win in some style. In truth, it could have been much more, and the only shadow of the game was Origi’s ankle injury, which came just as the Belgian had hit a superb run of form, comparable to the one he’s in now. The game is also remembered for Jürgen Klopp’s laugh at Lucas Leiva’s shot. Poor Lucas, bless him. The first derby of last season was of course Brendan Rodgers’ last game in charge, a lifeless Liverpool somehow managing a 1-1 draw thanks to Danny Ings’ goal.
Everton have never lost a Merseyside Derby played on a Monday night since the inception of the Premier League.
The Toffees haven’t lost a home league match this season, and haven’t lost at home to Liverpool in five years.
Liverpool are unbeaten against Everton in the league in six years.
Daniel Sturridge has scored four goals in his last five Merseyside Derby appearances.
Romelu Lukaku has five goals in eight games against Liverpool, having scored against the Reds for Everton and West Bromwich Albion.
PREDICTION: Everton 1-2 Liverpool
It’s Everton, lads. The Toffees have indeed looked good at home under Koeman, but Arsenal missed a hat-full of chances last week, ones that Big Div Origi won’t be missing. Add Origi’s sixth in six to a Sadio Mane strike (he deserves a goal after his last two performances) and we’ll ride back over Stanley Park armed with three points. Lukaku to score because conceding seems fairly inevitable, unless Matip is back.