It is derby day in Liverpool as the 226th Merseyside derby is set to be played, and in what is a big weekday fixture week before the FA Cup weekend for Everton and big week for Liverpool as they try to jump West Ham and Southampton in hopes to battle for a Europa League spot late in the season.
Everton travels to Anfield for this edition of the Merseyside Derby as they go to Liverpool’s home knowing they have not won at Anfield since 1999. It has been 17 years since Kevin Campbell scored the game winner in that match and the Toffees will try to break the hex in this edition of the derby.
However, Everton will have to deal with two key injuries to captain Phil Jagielka and fullback Seamus Coleman will definitely be out of the game against Liverpool. Manager Roberto Martinez told the media, “Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman will be definitely out of the derby … I think it’s too early to make a final decision before the weekend.” Martinez was referring to Everton’s FA Cup semifinal matchup against Manchester United on the weekend.
In what is a bit of good news for the Toffees, Martinez said he assessed the fitness of key players like Tom Cleverley, Aaron Lennon and Leighton Baines and we might be seeing them on the pitch today for Everton. However, Toffees boss Roberto Martinez said that he would be okay with having his young personnel play in case that the first team players on the mend would not be ready for first team action.
Midfielder James McCarthy, in more good news for Everton, will be back after serving a one-match suspension.
On the other side of the pitch, Liverpool is favored to win this matchup, having played excellent football as of late. It is also manager Jürgen Klopp’s first Merseyside Derby and he is pumped about the prospect of playing a derby, to say the least. Klopp said to the media, “It’s about football. The best football is always full of emotion, full of passion, full of legal aggression.”
Liverpool will have to find that legal aggression from another player in this derby as physical midfielder Emre Can has been ruled out for about a month as we deals with an ankle injury suffered in the game against Borussia Dortmund. Also, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is expected to be back between the sticks as he sat out against Bournemouth, which Liverpool won 2-1.
Liverpool looks the favorite in this match and with good reason, since losing 3-2 against Southampton, Liverpool has gone on a five-game unbeaten streak in the league and in Europe. Everton, on the other hand, comes into this game drawing three straight against Crystal Palace, Watford and Southampton. If Everton has any dreams of winning a match away against their biggest rivals, they really need to look forward to star striker Romelu Lukaku to perform at his best.
A bit of good news for Everton fans, as Everton has only three defeats in 22 away games in all competitions this season, so they will look to that as a bit of calming figure before this big match. But, Liverpool with their deadly attacking corp of Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and promising youngster Divock Origi, will look to extend the Red’s unbeaten streak at Anfield to 18 years against the Toffees.
It would be surprising if Liverpool wasn’t able to notch a victory over their fiercest rivals, but with the heat of derby day looming over Anfield, one wrong move could doom either team.