Key Battles: Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby clash with Everton

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Liverpool’s Quest for League Summit

Liverpool host Everton in the Merseyside Derby on Saturday afternoon, where a victory would provisionally send the Reds to the top of the league. Jurgen Klopp has a phenomenal record against the Toffees since arriving at Liverpool in 2015, but today we’re going to be looking ahead to Saturday’s game and some of the key battles you can expect to see on and off the pitch.

Managers’ Tactical Warfare: Klopp vs Dyche

From contrasting managers, goal-scoring machines, and derby debutants could all steal the headlines come Saturday evening, but either way, it promises to be an interesting clash. Jurgen Klopp v Sean Dyche: Although football games are mostly won by the talent on the pitch, the two managers in the dugout on Saturday will have a huge say on the proceedings.

Below you can see the head-to-head record between the two managers, since Klopp arrived at Liverpool:

Matches Played: 12

Klopp wins: 8

Draws: 2

Dyche wins: 2

The numbers suggest that Klopp has been dominant in the meetings between the two, but that hasn’t stopped Dyche pulling off a few huge upsets during his time at Burnley. It was Dyche’s Burnley side that ended Liverpool’s four-year unbeaten home record, with a 1-0 win during the 2020/21 season. In that game, Klopp and Dyche were even involved in an off-the-pitch disagreement which led to the Liverpool boss chasing his opposition down the tunnel.

Contrasting Football Philosophies

When it comes to a Merseyside Derby clash between the two, they’ve met just once with Liverpool coming out 2-0 winners back in February. In terms of philosophies, you’ll struggle to find two managers with such contrasting approaches to the game. Dyche will likely set his team up incredibly deep and look to hit the Reds on the counter-attack, whereas Klopp’s side will press high up and look to dominate the ball. As much as Klopp’s side is the heavy favourites for this one, Dyche will certainly make things difficult and I wouldn’t rule out them pushing for a point in the end.

Will Dyche go with one or two up front?

Star Showdown: Salah vs Pickford

The Egyptian King has a range of experiences against Jordan Pickford since his arrival on Merseyside in 2017. Salah has five goals and one assist in nine appearances against the Toffees, whereas Pickford has just four clean sheets in 15 appearances against the Reds. One of those goals for Salah came in the last meeting between the two back in February, where the winger scored the eventual winner with the help of somewhat of a blunder from the England number one.

However, despite the strong dislike from the majority of Reds towards Pickford, he has definitely proved his worth on a few occasions in the Derby. In last season’s meeting at Goodison Park, the 29-year-old made a huge eight saves to keep the score at 0-0.

Debutants’ Day and Midfield Clash

Both players will be looking to set the record straight and stamp themselves into the history books. Derby debutants and the midfield battle: Liverpool players in the past have largely enjoyed their Merseyside Derby debuts, with the likes of Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez, Divock Origi, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Curtis Jones, and Cody Gakpo all scoring in their first encounter with the Toffees.

Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch, and Wataru Endo are all in line to get their first taste of the Merseyside Derby at the weekend. However, they may not have it as easy as the players mentioned above. Klopp’s new signings will face up against most of Everton’s stand-out performers so far this season, such as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana.

In my opinion, it’s clear that Liverpool’s front and back line is more than capable of outperforming Everton’s choices in the same position. However, I think the midfield battle will be much closer and could be the deciding factor on Saturday. Liverpool’s midfield of last season would struggle significantly against the strength and pace of Dyche’s midfield, but Klopp’s new-look midfield will be far more competitive in those departments.

Prediction and Line-Up Predicted XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Gravenberch, Salah, Nunez, Diaz. Score Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Everton.

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