Ahead of one of the most anticipated Premier League derbies, Liverpool were drawn against rivals Everton in the FA Cup on Monday 4th December. Oh, and it’ll also be at Anfield.
The double derby has got the Merseyside fanbases in two totally different moods. Liverpool fans are screaming ‘bring it on’ whilst they swing from chandeliers but the Toffees are internally groaning and trying to cover their fear on Twitter.
After plummeting into the deadly drop zone of the Premier League table, Everton have completely shut down all high expectations of their ‘successful’ transfer window.
The sacking of Ronald Koeman seems to have alleviated some of Everton’s misery – the debut of new manager Sam Allardyce saw the Blues actually win one of their fixtures and escape the bottom three.
But everyone knows the Merseyside derby is the time of the season where Everton forget how to play football. No matter what form either team is in, 99% of the time it bends to Liverpool’s favour.
Unfortunately for Everton though, to say Liverpool are in incredible form is an extreme understatement. Jurgen Klopp and the Reds are unbeaten in their last nine fixtures since the appalling defeat at Wembley against Tottenham.
The away demolition has really kicked Liverpool into gear – they’ve won seven out of the nine games since the Spurs clash. Their most recent, of course, being the 7-0 goal fest they had at Anfield last night against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League.
Look out, Everton.
Goal gluts and a defence on the rise
Despite Liverpool’s recent poor form in defence, the team have done well to keep their most recent games free from opposition goals.
Five out of the seven winning matches have featured clean sheets and a large goal margin. The other two saw the Reds concede just the one goal in each game.
Not bad statistics at all considering the last few months’ worth of nightmares.
After shattering the record for most goals scored by an English side in the UCL group stages, Liverpool’s attacking four are looking more lethal than ever. The Fab Four as they are now known, have tallied a phenomenal 46 goals and 23 assists this season. They just cannot be stopped.
Everton should be extremely nervous facing the Reds at Anfield during both fixtures. It’s not just going to be the fans with their claws out, Mo Salah and the gang will be on the hunt for goals, goals, goals.
Klopp has played about quite a bit with the team during the last few fixtures.
His most recent shocker saw Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Dejan Lovren in defence with two defenders pushed into midfield. This starting XI against Brighton didn’t go down well at all with fans but the Reds sauntered to a 5-1 victory. The only opposing goal came from an extremely soft penalty given against Jordan Henderson.
Is the manager a genius or an actual fruit loop? Who knows. But whichever it is, it’s unlocked a secret winning formula with the team. And with Liverpool due to face Everton on two occasions in the next four weeks, it could be the perfect time for Klopp to pull out some more mad rotations.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rearing for some more game time and Adam Lallana finally fit again, the double derby is ideal for introducing players that have gathered some dust.
Ben Woodburn, Marko Grujic and Dominic Solanke would do well to feature in the first team against the Blues. Not only would it rest key players and give the youngsters time to shine but the Merseyside derby is a must-have experience for any young Red.
It wouldn’t hurt to give Danny Ward a go in goal, either.
With Simon Mignolet covering the Premier League and Loris Karius looking after the European nights, Ward has seen almost no time on the pitch since his return from Huddersfield. A spell against Everton might just be what the doctor ordered for the third choice goalkeeper.
It’s still early days for Big Sam’s reign at Goodison Park. But no matter how good he is at avoiding relegation, I don’t think anything will prepare him and the team for Liverpool’s wrath.
It’s no doubt going to be a heated and gritty game, but Liverpool are sure favourites to put the Toffees to bed on both occasions.
If it all goes well on Sunday (which it will) why not rest the big boys and bring the youths out to play? The perfect way to link players together and make a complete show of Everton FC.
Written by Georgia Goulding
Follow Georgia on Twitter @gjgoulding
Check out her excellent football blog: Football, Findings and Fiction
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