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Allardyce says Everton ready to “go for glory” against rivals Liverpool

Is Big Sam ready to ditch his favoured defensive tactics for the trip to Anfield?

Liverpool v Everton - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Sam Allardyce is insists a draw “isn’t good enough” and will set out his team to beat Liverpool at Anfield on Friday.

Allardyce employed some ultra defensive tactics during the Premier League derby at Anfield last month as he looked to tighten up the team’s leaky backline.

The Toffees boss was rewarded with a point thanks to Wayne Rooney’s penalty after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was fouled in the area - an incident that is still causing fume amongst the Liverpool fans even now.

Even the most ardent of Everton fans will admit the team were fortunate to grab a point, though the raging sense of entitlement from the Liverpool fans made what was a pretty torrid 90 minutes bearable.

Allardyce has since been criticised for perhaps being too conservative, particularly in games against West Brom and Bournemouth over Christmas.

In Allardyce’s defence, he always said the priority was to stop the team conceding silly goals before working on the forward line, something he has achieved relatively quickly.

The seven-game unbeaten run has also lifted Everton away from danger and eased the sense of panic around the club.

Liverpool v Everton - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

That should give Everton some breathing space to try and express themselves more, starting on Friday.

Whether Allardyce can truly shake off the shackles remains to be seen. Plus, they still need to respect Liverpool forward line, even if it is without some of its star names.

If I’m honest, this is not the game I wanted at this stage of the season. After such a gruelling Christmas period the chance to rest key players against a lower division side would have been much preferable.

As it is, this is pretty much the only game Everton could have drawn where they have a responsibility and expectation to pick a strongest side as possible.

That won’t be easy however given the amount of injuries around and tired legs around the squad.

Besiktas v FC Porto - UEFA Champions League Photo by Cees van Hoogdalem/Soccrates/Getty Images

The imminent arrival of Cenk Tosun is a timely boost and a welcome addition to a lightweight forward line.

It’s hoped Tosun will be registered in time to play at Anfield, though given he has yet to even train with his teammates anything other than a late cameo would be a risk.

All this talk distracts me from the fact Everton stand on the brink of an unwanted record. If they fail to win at Anfield it will be their 16th successive game without a victory against Liverpool, the worst run in the history of the fixture.

Given Everton are also on the longest trophy drought in the club’s history I’m left to question whether we are all cursed in being destined to support this club at this particular stage of their existence.

Is it any wonder we are all so negative all the time?

Kevin Campbell and that September evening in 1999 looms large, though the FA Cup does bring back to more recent happy memories.

Soccer - FA Carling Premiership - Liverpool v Everton - Anfield Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

Back in 2009 Everton were drawn against Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The first tie finished 1-1 at Anfield before Dan Gosling’s goal in the last minute of extra-time sent the Toffees through at a jubilant Goodison.

The league Anfield derby was scheduled just before the cup tie and also finished 1-1, meaning Everton played Liverpool three times in a fortnight and didn’t lose.

I cling to such omens at times like this, as after 18 years of misery at Anfield I don’t have much else left.

The opposition

Liverpool have continued on their merry way since the league derby in December, winning four of their subsequent six matches - including their last three in a row.

They have also added Virgil van Dijk to the squad for a hefty £75m, though speculation continues to rage about the future of long-term Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho.

Team news

Sam Allardyce says defender Michael Keane is likely to miss out after receiving stitches in a foot injury suffered against Man Utd.

Leighton Baines is also still absent as he continues recovery from a calf injury.

We await news of Cenk Tosun, who if signed in time is likely to start among the substitutes.

Liverpool will be without top scorer Mohamed Salah due to a groin strain and Philippe Coutinho because he wants to move to Barcelona has a “thigh injury”.

Virgil Van Dijk could make his Liverpool debut after his £75m move from Southampton. Jurgen Klopp has already confirmed Loris Karius will start in goal.

Predicted starting XI

Everton: Pickford, Martina, Williams, Holgate, Kenny, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

Everton’s recent wobble has eroded some of the confidence built up during Allardyce’s early weeks in charge, meaning optimism is in short supply ahead of yet another daunting trip across Stanley Park.

The absence of Salah and Coutinho is a welcome boost, but Liverpool have a strong squad that can more than cover for their absence.

Plus, Everton have crumbled in the face of worse Liverpool sides in the past.

We once again just have to blindly hope this time, somehow, things will be different.