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Everton v Liverpool: Match Preview

Everton go one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season in the unusual position of favourites against the old enemy Liverpool – but can they pile on the misery for Brendan Rodgers’ struggling Reds? Or is that long wait for a derby win going to stretch into a sixth year?

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roberto Martinez certainly has the momentum and form behind him going into the 225th meeting of these two Mersey neighbours. Last Monday’s comeback 3-2 win at West Brom was not only their fifth from nine games this season, but demonstrated they now have options on the bench to change games when things are going against them as well as coping with injuries to key members of the squad.

That is a key difference from the David Moyes era, with the Scot often battling to just get a competitive XI out on the pitch. They also have in the form of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, genuine match winners who can turn the game in our favour with a flash of brilliance.

The Opposition

Liverpool on the other hand go into this game seemingly on the brink of crisis. Patience is wearing thin among the supporters after a tepid start to the season and a heavy derby defeat could well be the final straw for Brendan Rodgers.

They have won just once in the Premier League since the first two weeks of the season with their only other victory coming against League Two Carlisle on penalties.

We have been here before though.

Their remarkable 2013/14 campaign aside, this has been a Liverpool side in steady decline in recent seasons yet Everton have failed to overcome their nearest neighbours since October 2010.

Team news

Everton are prepared to give John Stones and Seamus Coleman as long as possible to prove their fitness following knee and hamstring injuries respectively. Muhamed Besic is expected to miss out with a hamstring injury of his own while Kevin Mirallas serves the final match of his three match suspension.

Liverpool are checking on the fitness of Christian Benteke who has missed their last three matches with a hamstring strain. Daniel Sturridge is expected to start as he continues his comeback from a long-standing hip injury.

Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren are all ruled out of Sunday’s game at Goodison.

The final word

Martinez’s promise to attack on Sunday certainly hints at a change in mental approach as well as a technical one, with the Toffees struggling in the past to get to grips with the enormity of the fixture.

That has often been because Liverpool have had the better players, with Everton opting for a physical approach in response. That worked briefly in the ‘dogs of war’ era during the 1990s but has routinely failed since, with Everton picking up more red cards than points.

Thankfully Everton now have their own match winners and fair share of star players, meaning they can match their rivals toe-to-toe instead of resorting to aggressive, spoiling tactics.

This will also be Liverpool’s first match without Steven Gerrard since 2001, with the Reds unlikely to field any local player in their starting line-up.

Having a Scouse heartbeat in your side can mean so much in these fixtures, meaning the stage is set for Wavertree-born Ross Barkley to become Merseyside’s new derby hero.

Everton expected line-up: Howard, Coleman, Galloway, Stones, Jagielka, Barry, McCarthy, Barkley, Deulofeu, Kone, Lukaku