Either this is the best possible time to be facing the arch rivals, or the worst. The best because backs are to the wall, criticism is starting to fly for the first time in Roberto Martinez’ reign at the club, and the players have something to prove. The worst because, well because we can’t defend. But neither can they.
For the first time this season the injury situation looks to be lifting from the club with Ross Barkley the only confirmed absentee. With Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson making starts in midweek, Arouna Kone making the bench (although not the pitch), and Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar looking more and more likely to be available, the manager has some tough choices to make. After a rest in midweek Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Gareth Barry will return, with Romelu Lukaku and James McCarthy also restored to the starting eleven.
For the other lot Daniel Sturridge may be fit, possibly only for the bench.
What to watch out for
One word: defences. Take each player individually (Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Stones and Mignolet, Johnson, Moreno, Lovren, Sakho) and you’d be happy with that selection, but when you add them together Everton have conceded 17 goals, an average of over 2 per game, and Liverpool 5 in their last two games (against West Ham and Middlesbrough), so neither are solid. Expect a 0-0 draw now.
Substitutions will also have their part to play, Robert Martinez has not been as effective in this area as last season when he became somewhat of a master in game changing switches. This time round it’s cost the Blues goals in most games; if games finished after 45 minutes Everton would be third with ten points.
Kevin Mirallas feels he’s become a better player since he changed his mindset and his three goals this season certainly suggest he’s stepped it up a level. What comes next though is dominating performances against the best teams in the Premier League and this would be a great place to start.
Tim Howard will be under more scrutiny than at any time in his recent career in the lunchtime kick off. His performance for the USA in the summer raised his profile both in the UK and the US to levels he's not experienced before. After being a consistent performer since his move from Manchester United last season was his first truly outstanding season with previous errors and losses of concentration removed from his game. Sadly they've crept back in this season, and despite a number of great saves against Wolfsburg his form in the Premier League has been less than good. Time for Tim to buck his ideas up.
Everton have not won at Anfield since 1999, 16 games ago.
Everton have dropped 7 points from winning positions in five games this season, 4 of those points in the last couple of minutes against Leicester City and Arsenal.
Roberto Martinez has not beaten Brendan Rodgers in seven matches so far, the Spaniard's teams have lost 5 and drawn 2.