With the title challenge still very much in the balance as the Premier League hits March, league leaders Liverpool travel to their old rivals Everton with the pressure of keeping up their slender lead at the summit of the table… but can the blue half of Merseyside finally upset the red?
Everton vs Liverpool Preview and Prediction
Fact of Interest:
- Everton’s last win against Liverpool was 8 years ago at Goodison Park, courtesy of a 2-0 win with goals from Cahill and Arteta.
- Liverpool have won only once in their last 6 visits to Goodison Park, being the 1-0 win in December 2016’s league encounter.
- Everton’s home record is typical of their midtable form, with 6 wins from 14 home matches. They’ve lost 4 of their last 5 home league matches, and 8 of their last 12 league matches.
- Their 21 goals conceded at home is the 6th worst record in the league, and they’ve only enjoyed one clean sheet in their last 7 home matches, earned in their mid-January win against Bournemouth.
- Liverpool have the 2nd best away record in the league with 9 wins and 31 points from 14 matches. That said, they’ve only won once in their last 4 away league matches.
- They have the best away defence in the league in terms of goals conceded (just 8). The goalless draw away to Manchester United was the first time Liverpool failed to score away from home this season in a league match.
- Everton have scored over 60% of their goals this season in the second half of their matches.
- Liverpool have scored two thirds of their goals this season in the second half of their matches.
- Mohamed Salah has 1 goal in 2 appearances against Everton.
- Sadio Mane has scored 3 goals against Everton in 9 matches, 2 in a Liverpool shirt.
- Roberto Firmino is yet to score against Everton after 7 appearances.
- Daniel Sturridge is the most prolific in this fixture with 7 goals in 13 appearances.
- Richarlison is yet to score against Liverpool after 3 appearances.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored 4 goals against Liverpool in 15 matches, 1 in a Everton shirt.
Everton earned a morale restoring 3-0 victory away to Cardiff in midweek, while Liverpool played host to Watford and achieved an emphatic and much needed 5-0 win.
Leighton Baines made a return to Everton training this past week, but remains a doubt for the derby. Liverpool recently welcomed Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Joe Gomez back to training, but both players along with Dejan Lovren remain doubtful for inclusion in the squad to face Everton.
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
Arguably, Everton’s slump in midseason was kicked off by their 1-0 defeat at Anfield. Nonetheless, Marco Silva has not reneged on his tactical approach despite growing pressure to address the results with such amendments. The Portuguese manager’s collection of underachievers has fluctuated in consistency, with only left back Lucas Digne, playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, midfield anchor Idrissa Gueye and centre back Michael Keane producing reliable performances. Emerging goalscorer Richarlison has blown hot and cold, while there’s been equal inconsistencies in young hopefuls like goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and winger Calvert-Lewin, or veterans like Theo Walcott and Seamus Coleman.
Regardless, Silva still has a relatively decent variety and depth in options to tactically navigate Everton’s remaining fixtures, and a struggling Liverpool will likely provide enough of a canvas against which to test his commitment to his combative style of football. Assuming he stays with the 4231 from the recent fixtures, the lineup should be reasonably predictable. Centre back Kurt Zouma should return from suspension to join Pickford, Coleman, Digne and Keane in the back five., and its his physicality expected to lineup in front of Jordan Pickford and alongside Michael Keane, Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman. In midfield, anchor and destroyer Idrissa Gueye should start alongside Portuguese utility midfielder Andre Gomes, though the recent solid showing of veteran Morgan Schneiderlin may yet be a switch to watch out for. The attacking line is highly likely to remain unchanged from its most preferred configuration of creative veterans Sigurdsson and Walcott, joined by young starlets Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin.
Jurgen Klopp has remained focused on the use of a 433 system in recent matches, but both the systemic changes and fatigue in both players and tactical assertion have led to very flat and uncreative displays, especially in the draws against West Ham, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. The defence remains incredibly hard to penetrate but if Klopp’s side are to maintain the pressure on the title challenge, the questions being asked about the creativity and attacking efficacy have to be answered. As potent as they can be in their transitional play, the over-reliance of forcing opposition mistakes through pressing has started to be exposed by teams able to exploit their lack of incision in creating good quality chances.
Klopp has appeared to rotate fairly consistently, so the derby is most likely to feature the alternate rotation seen in the Manchester United clash. Hence, the likes of Alisson, Milner, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson are likely to feature in the back five. A midfield of Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum is expected to start, though it has much to answer for as it relates to its ability to supply the under-performing front 3. Salah, Firmino and Mane may still have the reputation of being one of the frightening attacks in Europe, but each passing encounter that results in a timid output has done more to foster doubt in their ability to carry Liverpool through to the end of the season.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Everton||Liverpool|
|Current Season Record||Played 28, Won 10, Drawn 6||Played 28, Won 21, Lost 1|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Sigurdsson (11), Richarlison (10)||Salah (17), Mane (14)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Everton 0 Wins, 5 Draws, Liverpool 5 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Goodison Park||Everton 2 Wins, 5 Draws, Liverpool 3 Wins|
|Last Season’s Result||Everton 0-0 Liverpool|
|Odds of Interest (as at 27 Feb)||Everton||Liverpool|
|Odds – Result (Draw = 3.10)||4.39||0.61|
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Form massively favours Liverpool. The derby just doesn’t tend to be a match Everton typically wins. With Marco Silva against a wall having his tactical approach scrutinized (and given the results, with some good reason), Klopp’s Reds will hardly lack for belief that Everton are in the right presence of mind or configuration to deliver an upset.
That said, there’s much to be desired from this Liverpool team at present. The inability of the team to find effective ways to break down low-block defences, capitalize on set pieces and deliver attacks through incisive through balls on various areas of the pitch has exposed their cards and begun to give teams a lot more confidence in being able to steal points from the Reds, much as Leicester, West Ham and a walking-wounded Manchester United recently showed.
The wildcard for Jurgen Klopp is the pride of his opposite number. Marco Silva has, in other posts in the past, sometimes been criticized for sticking to certain tactical approaches despite the unsuitability or risk involved given certain opponents. It may well be that the Portuguese’s tendency to throw caution to the wind and instead prioritise an assertive approach may count in the favour of their anxious opponents. As such, expect Liverpool to enjoy an unimpressive counter attacking win that results more from the miscalculated aggression of Everton’s footballing style rather than the sheer brilliance of Klopp’s underachieving contenders.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest EPL Betting Odds