Everton vs Liverpool Preview
By Daniel Richards
Kick off: Wednesday 1st December 2021
Rafael Benitez will take charge of his first Merseyside derby as a blue, having overseen 14 in the six years he had at the helm of the red side.
Benitez will be hoping that the saying ‘form goes out of the window on derby day’ rings true as his side go up against their fierce rivals low on confidence.
Having started the season, well winning four of their opening five games, even the biggest of Benitez critics were starting to come around to his switch of allegiance. However, a long injury crisis has struck since, leaving the toffees seven games without a win in the league. Their main problem has been trying to replace the prolific Dominic Calvert-Lewin, which has seen them fail to score in their last three matches. The 24-year-old is out with a quadriceps injury and has missed the majority of the season so far. Their poor recent form saw them lose 1-0 to Brentford on the weekend thanks to an Ivan Toney penalty, which saw them slide down to 14th position in the table.
Everton can take some solstice from the two sides meetings last season’s however. The blues took four points of the reds including a 2-0 with at Anfield, their first since 1999, ending their Anfield hoodoo. The man who opened the scoring that day Richalison, is also back from suspension, to provide such much needed threat in the opposition box.
Demari Gray’s return from injury will also boost the evertonians hopes going into derby day. The winger returned to action on the weekend, making a cameo appearance of the bench. He will be looking to recapture his early season form, which has made him look like a very shrewd piece of business by the clubs director of football Marcel Brands.
If Benitez was looking to sure things up at the back in this fixture and park the bus, he may be lacking depth to do so. Yerry Mina is still sidelined with a hamstring injury and Mason Holgate’s suspension means it looks like the Spaniard will have to stick with four at the back for this contest.
If Everton’s problem is finding the back of the net, it is a very different story for Jurgen Klopp’s men. The Reds have been dynamite in front of goal this season, scoring a staggering 39 goals from just 13 games so far this campaign, 8 more than the second highest in Chelsea. The form of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane certainly looks to be back to its best, emulating their title winning season performances. They now even have Diogo Jota supporting them, who scored a well taken brace on the weekend in the 4-0 win against Southampton.
Their clinical touch in front of goal is emphasised by the fact they have scored at least 2 goals in 17 of their last 18 league games. They haven’t been all that prolific in this fixture over the years however, drawing 8 from the last 9 derbies at Goodison Park. They will also be looking to get back to winning ways on their travels having lost 3-2 to West Ham last time out. The loss in the capital ended a 12 match unbeaten away run for Klopp’s men.
It looks like for the Tuesday evening game, Joel Matip will return to the starting line-up and replace Ibrahim Konate at the heart of defence. Whilst Thiago Alcantara has only played around an hour in Liverpool’s last two fixtures, so it will be interesting to see if he is rested for the derby by Klopp.
Prediction: I think that given Everton’s terrible run of form, Liverpool will have too much for Benitez’s side. Although I think the former Liverpool manager will try and keep it tight at the back, I worry that once Liverpool have one, the floodgates may open. Expect Salah to run the show with the form he is in this season, I have no doubt he will stamp his mark on this match.
Everton 0-3 Liverpool