Connect in the back of the net

Looking back towards the club’s last trip to Anfield is likely to be a particularly painful experience for those in Everton blue with the Toffees having been totally dismantled in a 4-0 defeat that all but marked the end of the Roberto Martinez era.

However on Saturday Ronald Koeman leads his team back to Anfield for the first time since that harrowing defeat and it is a perfect opportunity for the Dutchman and his players to show exactly what progress the club has mind over the course of the current campaign.

Farhad Moshiri’s wealth is expected to have a significant impact on Everton’s fortunes in terms of competing in the transfer market and making the long sought after move to a new stadium, however for now it has been the arrival of the former Feyenoord coach which has taken the Blues up a level from last season.

 

Resurgence

After a dismal 11th placed finish last term, Everton have already eclipsed the previous total of 47 points this season and are just six points adrift of the top four.

Koeman has brought a level of organisation into all aspects of the team, especially defensively, as well as helping Ross Barkley find a level of consistency in his play that simply has simply never been present before.

Champions League qualification was never really the target this season with even the most ardent supporter unlikely to disagree with that, yet the club’s ability to pressure the perceived bigger teams this season has been impressive.

It is clear Everton are moving in the right direction and provided the money brought in through the likely sales of both Romelu Lukaku and Barkley this summer is used correctly then there is every chance the Dutchman will have a chance of pushing the top four even closer next year.

 

Huge derby

For the moment however the upcoming Merseyside derby is huge for a multitude of reasons.

Everton have the opportunity to go to Anfield, not quite as equals with their fierce rivals, but as close to it as the two teams have been in a head-to-head sense for years.

Everton actually haven’t beaten Liverpool since October 2010.

It was easy to label last season’s disappointments as a one-off that was more related to a coach’s methods quite simply losing their effectiveness, but it must also be recognised that the improvement Everton have shown this season is far greater than many could have imagined.

This can be illustrated by a confident performance against Liverpool and in truth it is the perfect opportunity for Koeman and co to shine.

It has been such a nightmare ground to visit for the Toffees for nearly 20 years with their last victory at Anfield coming in the 1999/2000 season.

As such a victory on Saturday would send shockwaves throughout the city.

 

Suitable opportunity to capitalize on

Liverpool themselves haven’t quite rediscovered their blistering attacking form that made them a title contender before the turn of the year, whilst the Blues are heading into the match with arguably the best striker in the Premier League in their ranks.

Lukaku has netted 21 times in the Premier League this season and is currently in the middle of his best run of form with at least one goal coming in his last four domestic outings.

Jurgen Klopp’s defensive concerns have remained throughout the campaign and it is hard to see the Belgian failing to find the net as a result.

A lot of Everton’s struggles against Liverpool are psychological as much as anything.

Over recent years they simply haven’t been able to get over the line against them, but then again this is similar to how Everton have never quite been able to get over the line in terms of Champions League qualification since 2005.

 

Intangible

Despite only boasting five major trophies in a coaching career that started back in 2000, Koeman has brought an intangible to the club that gives the sense that they could finally be able to get over such obstacles.

Organisation, discipline and a strong tactical mind have been the staples of the club’s progress this year and the Dutchman making strong decisions in future transfer markets is only going to strengthen the team’s position.

In the immediate term however the chance is there for a team in such a fine run at the moment to force the Premier League to sit up and take notice if they put in a strong, memorable display at the home of their bitter rivals.

 

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

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