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19 years of misery weighs heavy - Is this Everton’s time?

The least I can say is we’re due a win

Liverpool FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Here we go again. Off we trudge across Stanley Park for a fixture that has largely delivered nothing but pain and misery over the past 19 seasons.

September 27 1999 is a long time ago, but Kevin Campbell remains the last Everton player to score a winner at Anfield.

It’s a frankly embarrassing record, something Seamus Coleman admitted earlier this week, and suggests it’s down to more than Liverpool just having better players. Everton have had some decent teams too over the years but haven’t really come close to taking all three points.

There has definitely been a mentality problem when is comes to games at Anfield. It’s prevalent amongst the supporters, who collectively dread heading across the park to take on our neighbours. That fear crept in amongst the players too, particularly during the David Moyes regime.

Moyes was so often accused of being too cautious when taking on the top sides. Roberto Martinez’s approach was refreshingly different but went too far the other way, resulting in two 4-0 hammerings, the latter of which was one of the most one-sided derby games in history.

Marco Silva seems to have hit that sweet spot between the two, employing a positive forward-thinking attitude without compromising defensive organisation.

After such a divisive and chaotic campaign last season, there’s a real sense that everyone is pulling in the right direction, and that’s bearing fruit on the pitch.

Five wins from their last seven matches has lifted the club into the top six. If they can maintain their current form for the rest of the season in puts them on course for a similar total to that achieved by Martinez in his first season in charge.

That remains a big if of course. But even if they fall short the fans would still applaud their efforts as it is being done in the right way. It’s the start of a journey we all want to be on.

The result is an Everton side going into the derby the most confident they have been in years - not necessarily of the result, but confident in their identity and what they want to achieve.

The opposition

I’ll keep this brief - we know plenty about them lot across the park already! But I think it’s fair to say the Reds will likely be in the title shake-up at the end of the season after an unbeaten start to the campaign.

They have won five of their six league games at Anfield so far, the other game being a goalless draw with Man City, while their points tally of 33 is the highest they have achieved at this stage of a Premier League season.

World-record deals for Allisson and Virgil van Dijk have plugged the gaps in what was a shaky defence, providing a solid platform for their attacking players to flourish.

If there is a weakness it could be in midfield - a suggestion that brought a spiky response from Jurgen Klopp during his pre-match press conference.

They also go into this game with a point to prove after defeat to PSG in midweek, their third away defeat in this year’s Champions League.

Needless to say they have a formidable recent record in this fixture, winning six and drawing nine of the last 15 league meetings going back to 2010.

Team news

Marco Silva has the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from as he prepares for his first Merseyside derby.

The main selection dilemmas are likely to be the forward positions, with Ademola Lookman’s impressive performances from the bench in recent weeks putting pressure on Theo Walcott and Bernard.

There’s also the option to switch Richarlison to the left and bring in a target man such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Cenk Tosun to battle with van Dijk.

The rest of the side is likely to be unchanged, with Yerry Mina keeping his place alongside Michael Keane ahead of Kurt Zouma.

Predicted starting XI

Final word

We’ve all grown weary of losing at Anfield and I exhausted all my lucky pre-match rituals a long time ago.

But while I won’t go as far to say that things are different this time, we at least head across the park unified behind one cause. As a result I don’t feel a defeat would prove catastrophic to everyone’s morale.

We are in this for the long haul and I’m confident a win at Anfield is not far away, even if it isn’t on Sunday.