Batten down the hatches. Hold your loved ones close, and pour a drink. It’s derby time.
Everton enter Anfield in probably their best form of the season. That, admittedly, is a very low bar, but the Blues have three straight wins, and three straight clean sheets.
For a variety of reasons - form, personnel, location, rivalry - Liverpool probably represent the sternest test of the season, and it’s time to see what Sam Allardyce might have up those big sleeves of his.
Tactics and Formation
For better or worse, we just can’t see Sam deviating from the setup that got him a comfortable three points against Huddersfield Town last week. That plan does make a fair bit of sense against this Liverpool side — Aaron Lennon’s pace down the right will give Everton an ideal outlet against the high-pressing Reds, particularly if James Milner is forced into the left-back role following Alberto Moreno’s injury.
But the use of Wayne Rooney in the midfield could be troublesome against such a high-flying attack, even if the former Manchester United star is likely to be ecstatic for his first Merseyside Derby back with Everton.
That said, the return to health of Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane will probably cause a change at center-back — or at least it damn well better, as the idea of Mason Holgate and Ashley Williams taking on Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino is terrifying.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Jonjoe Kenny - 10/10
Michael Keane - 8/10
Phil Jagielka - 8/10
Cuco Martina - 10/10
With Leighton Baines still hurt, Allardyce has little choice but to go with the Curacao international at left-back.
Idrissa Gueye - 10/10
Tom Davies - 8/10
Wayne Rooney - 10/10
Aaron Lennon - 9/10
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 9/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 9/10
- Joel Robles
- Mason Holgate
- Ashley Williams
- Morgan Schneiderlin - This is a match crying out for someone with the skills of the lanky Frenchman, but coming off 90 minutes in Cyprus and combined with the success of the previous game’s midfield trio, it’s unlikely - and unfortunate - that Sam makes a change.
- Nikola Vlasic
- Ademola Lookman - Both Lookman and Vlasic performed well on Thursday in the Europa League, and are likely to be rewarded for their strong play with a place in the side on Sunday.
- Oumar Niasse
At this moment, it seems fairly clear that these are Everton’s best 18 players. That will change in the coming weeks as key figures return from injury, but in the interim, it’s time to walk alone.