Kick Off: Saturday, 7th February, 17:30
Tv: Sky Sports 1, BBC 1 Match of the Day Highlights
Everton (Possible 4-2-3-1) Joel Robles, Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic, Steven Naismith, Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku
Out: Tim Howard (calf), Leon Osman (foot), Steven Pienaar (lack of match fitness), Christian Atsu (international duty)
Doubts: James McCarthy (hamstring)
Liverpool (Possible 3-4-3) Simon Mignolet, Emre Can, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Moreno, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho
Out: Brad Jones (thigh), Jon Flanagan (knee), Kolo Toure (international duty), Jordan Rossiter (ankle)
Doubts: Lazar Markovic (back)
New signing Aaron Lennon is in line to make his debut after completing his loan move from Tottenham on deadline day. It is likely however that Lennon will have to make do with a place on the bench for this one with Kevin Mirallas slightly ahead on the pecking order.
Roberto Martinez is unlikely to make too many changes to his side after ending a dire run of form with a win at Crystal Palace last weekend. The Spaniard will hope to have James McCarthy back available but the midfield partnership of Barry and Besic is in place in his absence
Martinez is without Tim Howard, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar who are all sidelined, while Christian Atsu is still away at the Africa cup of Nations after helping Ghana reach the semi-finals
Brendan Rodgers has no new injury concerns and has been boosted by the recent return of striker Daniel Sturridge. Rodgers will surely start skipper Steven Gerrard in what will be his last Merseyside derby. Daniel Sturridge came off the bench and netted within minutes in last weekend’s win over West Ham and came off the bench in the FA Cup replay win at Bolton, so he should start this one. Lazar Markovic is likely to be the unfortunate one to make way for Sturridge as he is struggling to be fit with a back injury.
With the exceptions of Brad Jones and Jon Flanagan, Rodgers has a clean bill of health going into this weekend’s derby.
Both sides have struggled to reach the heights of last season as the Reds came agonisingly close to ending their title drought and the Toffees ran Arsenal all the way for a Champions League spot. European football has arguably hindered both sides in the league as both sides have struggled at times to balance the two. Is it any coincidence that Liverpool’s domestic form has improved considerably since their Champions League exit in December? Both clubs now face the prospect of Thursday nights in the Europa League and playing on Sunday in the Premier League which isn’t an ideal scenario for any side.
Form would suggest Liverpool are favourites going into this derby after winning 5 of their last 6 league games and with the return of Daniel Sturridge who has a good goalscoring record against the Toffees. Everton ended a dismal run of form of 3 defeats and 2 draws by winning at Selhurst Park last time out which was much needed win going into derby weekend. Form does tend to go out the window in derby games where there is more at stake than just 3 points. Bragging rights are at stake for both sets of fans. Regardless on the form of either side, the atmosphere tends to play a big role in games of this magnitude which can take it’s tole on any player.
In this fixture last season we were treated to a goal fest in a 3-3 draw. A late goal from Daniel Sturridge salvaged a point for the Reds after 2 goals from Romelu Lukaku gave Everton the lead and looked to have secured the bragging rights for the blue half of Merseyside. One would have to think that these two players will once again be key in determining the outcome of this derby.
Interesting Stat: Liverpool are undefeated in their last 9 matches against Everton in all competitions
Prediction: Everton 2-2 Liverpool