Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Chris Kavanagh
Date & Time – Saturday, February 20th @ 17:30
Current Odds – Liverpool 4/9, Draw 7/2, Everton 6/1
It’s the Merseyside derby this weekend. Liverpool and Everton clash at Anfield in a game that’s bound to get the adrenaline pumping. It was at Goodison Park that our season began to fall apart, after all. Jordan Pickford ended Virgil van Dijk’s season, Richarlison received a straight red late on for another bad challenge on Thiago, and inept refereeing and use of VAR disallowed Liverpool’s injury-time winner from Jordan Henderson. It finished 2-2 but the game left a lingering aftertaste.
A win on Saturday won’t make up for a career-threatening injury on Van Dijk but it will help us on our road to a top-four Premier League finish. Let’s keep the focus on that.
Liverpool won 2-0 against RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday night. It was The Reds’ first win in four games after a three-match losing streak brought an end to their Premier League title defence this month.
Tuesday night, though. Tuesday night, Liverpool looked to be on their way back with a convincing victory against Julian Nagelsmann’s excellent Bundesliga side.
Liverpool must now push on and secure a top-four finish to guarantee qualification to European football’s premier competition next season. That starts with a win against Everton this Saturday evening.
Everton lost their last two league games, both at Goodison Park, this week. Firstly, Fulham beat them 2-0 with two goals from Josh Maja on Sunday and then Manchester City won 3-1 against The Toffees on Wednesday night. Their last league win was the 2-1 victory at Leeds on February 3rd.
Everton have gone 23 games without a win over Liverpool in any competition. Their last success in a Merseyside derby was way back during our ‘Roy Hodgson era’ when they won 2-0 at Goodison Park in October 2010.
Liverpool Team News
Currently out for Liverpool are James Milner, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Naby Keïta, Diogo Jota, and Joël Matip.
Ozan Kabak put in a fine performance for The Reds against RB Leipzig on Tuesday night. I expect the Turkey international to start alongside Jordan Henderson in central defence again on Saturday. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will continue at right and left-back respectively.
Alisson Becker put in a more assured display in midweek. Hopefully, our goalkeeper is on his way back to his old reliable self.
The only change from the RB Leipzig lineup that we may see is a return for Naby Keïta in midfield. Gini Wijnaldum will probably play the ‘6’ role at the base of Liverpool’s midfield with Thiago Alcântara ahead of him. Curtis Jones was very good against RB Leipzig on Tuesday but could be on the bench for the Everton game with Keïta coming in instead. Keïta hasn’t played since Liverpool’s 7-0 win at Crystal Palace in mid-December but is back in full training and stayed at the AXA Training Centre this week to continue his quest for full fitness. I could be way off with this but it’s possible that with some full training sessions under his belt this week, Keïta might be given a starting place on Saturday.
With Jota still not back from injury, Liverpool’s front three will almost certainly remain unchanged from Tuesday night – Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané.
Everton Team News
Everton’s only injury concern is Jean-Philippe Gbamin. The defensive midfielder misses out on this one.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Fabian Delph, and Yerry Mina will face late fitness tests ahead of Saturday’s game.
Midfielder Allan is no longer injured but has not played for the first team since Everton’s win at Leicester back in mid-December. He will be seriously lacking match fitness so the best he can hope for is a place on the bench.
Jordan Pickford returned to the starting lineup for Everton’s 3-1 home defeat against Manchester City on Wednesday night so should be in goal for The Toffees at Anfield.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that they have been using, for the most part, this season.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Everton XI (4-2-3-1) – Pickford; Holgate, Godfrey, Keane, Digne; Doucouré, Davies; Rodríguez, Sigurðsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin
WHEN THEY LAST MET
The sides drew 2-2 when they met in the Premier League at Goodison Park back in October. Unfortunately, it was a game more remembered for inept officiating rather than free-flowing football. Jordan Pickford ended Virgil van Dijk’s season with a horror challenge in the first half – an incident that went without punishment despite VAR having full access to perfect video footage of the tackle.
To rub salt in the wounds, Liverpool had what would have been a deserved winner from Jordan Henderson denied because of an incorrect ‘offside’ call via VAR late in injury time.
Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah were Liverpool’s goalscorers on the day with Michael Keane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring for The Toffees.
LIVERPOOL 3 – 1 EVERTON
Liverpool stopped the rot with a great win against RB Leipzig on Tuesday night. Now, they have the chance to really boost the mood around the club by beating Everton in the Merseyside derby at Anfield. And they will. Expect a pulsating encounter where every player’s temperament will need to be controlled. Mohamed Salah will probably get on the scoresheet again – the one-season wonder that he is…