Everton host Liverpool tonight in the 227th edition of the Merseyside Derby. Though it has always been known as the ‘friendly derby’, the clash has been anything but in the last few years.
This fixture was a 1-1 draw last season, leading to the firing of Brendan Rodgers as the Reds manager and the hiring of Jurgen Klopp. The return leg ended in a 4-0 result against the Toffees, which was part of the avalanche of poor results resulting in Roberto Martinez being let go and the arrival of Ronald Koeman at Finch Farm.
The two managers have only met once before in the Premier League, with Southampton beating Liverpool at St. Mary’s 3-2 in March this year. Of the Saints three goals that day, two came from the boot of Sadio Mane who is now at Anfield.
Liverpool contrived to blow a 2-0 halftime lead in that game after a dominant first half resulted in the Reds fading in the second. On that day, it was the substitutions that Koeman made at the half that caused the change - Mane’s direct running and Wanyama’s midfield physicality.
Tonight, Koeman will look to continue making inroads deep behind the shaky Liverpool backline. If Gerard Deulofeu doesn’t start, then it’s likely he’ll come on as a second half sub to run at the defence.
After James McCarthy’s rousing midfield performance on Tuesday, Koeman will have a selection headache in deciding if he wants to bring back his midfield anchor Gareth Barry or not.
The Blues will likely start in a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 hybrid with Ross Barkley on the bench, which is tough on the lad considering his season-best-so-far performance against Arsenal midweek.
Here is a statistical preview of the game courtesy of the fine folk over at Kick Off.
Form guide for Everton and Liverpool -
And here are the head-to-head records for the two Merseyside rivals -