About six months ago the derby was almost overshadowed by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's comments after the game where he compared Everton to Stoke City (in the process spawning one of our most-viewed posts of all time - #AskStevieG). With just three games left in the 2012-13 season, Everton are still ahead of Liverpool and the Blues would love nothing better than to stay there for the second consecutive season.
Both teams have been in good form coming into the game, with Everton picking up points in seven of their last eight games while Liverpool have collected at least a point in eight of the last nine to maintain their position five points behind Everton. Defeat for either side would be the end of any hopes of making the Europa League, while even a win might not suffice with Tottenham continuing to win.
Team News -
Darron Gibson could miss this game if he hasn't recovered from his hip injury. Tony Hibbert has made it back into the squad and should be on the bench again.
Long term absentee Fabio Borini finally played last weekend leaving Joe Allen and Martin Kelly as the players missing due to injuries. The significant player missing from the Liverpool puzzle is Luis Suarez who is serving a ten-game suspension - needless to say, Everton will be glad to not have to face the buck-toothed wonder.
Keys To The Game -
Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman have been the sole bright spots in the last few games for Everton with the pairing of Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines struggling with exhaustion as the season draws to a close. Mirallas in particular gave the Liverpool defence a torrid time before limping off at halftime having been kicked into oblivion. Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been masterful pulling the strings in the midfield for the Reds, and if Darron Gibson is not ready to go Marouane Fellaini might be tasked with keeping him under wraps for the afternoon. Everton have been wasteful in front of goal this season especially, and failing to take their chances in this fixture is an almost certain guarantee of a loss.
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge has been in excellent form and will keep Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin busy. Talismanic captain Steven Gerrard has found lots of success against the Everton defence ghosting in behind the strikers, and vulturing on poor clearances and rebounds. This will be the last derby for veteran Jamie Carragher who will be retiring after this season, a decision brought upon entirely from being shamed into accepting that Phil Neville covers ground faster than him. How hilarious would it be though if Everton beat Liverpool at Anfield for the first time in fourteen years off a goal from a long ball hoofed out of defence straight to Victor Anichebe who scores without letting the ball touch the ground. Take that Gerrard!
Match Facts -
David Moyes still hasn't won at Anfield in eleven visits - get a grip old man.
Leighton Baines leads the League in chances created despite Raheem Sterling attempting ankle amputations on him in the first leg.
No one really cares about these match facts, just play the game already!
Special Treat -