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Everton at Liverpool: Q&A with The Liverpool Offside

RBM interviews the always-witty Noel from 'The Liverpool Offside' ahead of Sunday's derby at Anfield.

Coates attempts a legal gymnastics move in assisting on Suarez's winning goal (Not).
Coates attempts a legal gymnastics move in assisting on Suarez's winning goal (Not).
Clive Brunskill

We had an excellent chat with Noel from our fellow SB Nation blog 'The Liverpool Offside' earlier in the season, and we touched base with him again before Sunday when Everton travel to the derby rematch at Liverpool.

RBM - Philippe Coutinho has been quite stellar lately, is he 'the one' to pull the strings in the Liverpool midfield for years to come?

TLO - He's certainly shaping up to be the steal of January, but the truth is—and Coutinho has spoken to this since his arrival—that the cynicism of the Italian game was a poor fit for his talents and he had been stagnating at Inter. His time on loan at Espanyol last season showed what he could do in a more dynamic league, and there's certainly a case to be made that he's been Liverpool's best attacker since arriving.

Mostly it's just hard not to pinch myself any time he does something brilliant—after all, Liverpool just don't do bargains. In recent seasons they've been hard pressed to find good players at any price. Now here's this buzzing little dervish with magical feet who arrived for a measly £8.5M and is still only 20 years old. And, in a blatant affront to cliched expectation, he even tracks back. None of it quite adds up when you start to think on it.

RBM - Is there anything left to be said about the whole Luis Suarez fiasco? Last words, farewell statements, contract extensions, anything?!

TLO - If he can learn to only try to hurt people in situationally acceptable ways he might manage to go six months before his next controversy. If not then three would be pushing it. Also, this is where I say something snarky about Marouane Fellaini.

RBM - Brendan Rodgers is about to complete his first full season in charge. What does he get for a grade? Where can he improve?

TLO - Incomplete. Most are content to give him at least another season to see where he goes after laying the foundations, but there remain as many question marks as there promising signs—as many steps backwards as forwards. In any case, in his second season it'd be nice to see him acting a bit more like a Spanish manager by embracing a bit of squad rotation. And also to stop publicly talking about where he hopes Liverpool can finish after every win, loss, or draw.

RBM - What do you see as the weaknesses in the side now? What is in the pipeline to remedy these issues?

TLO - Rodgers fixed the attack but broke the defence, so that's where the work needs doing. Jamie Carragher is retiring; Martin Skrtel went from player of the season to plastered on milk cartons; and Sebastian Coates has spent more time perfecting his Dazed and Confused look than his football. Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom offer the potential for a homegrown future at centre half, but there needs to be at least one big signing there over the summer or this time next year we'll still be talking foundations and the future.

RBM - How do the Liverpool clubs rein in the Manchester and London teams from their hegemony at the top of the table?

TLO - Blackmail?

RBM - Finally, how about a score prediction for Sunday? Who are you expecting to shine?

TLO - About all I'm certain of is whatever happens it'll give my chronic alcoholism the chance to shine.