Marco Silva may have denied its lasting impact, but there is no question that December’s derby heartache at Anfield proved to be the turning point in Everton’s season.
It was a result that must have stung for the players, but the hurt was tenfold for the fans who have seen Everton contrive to lose Merseyside derbies in all manner of ways over the years.
To be honest I thought they had exhausted all avenues of derby-induced calamity, but that moment at Anfield topped the lot.
Had Everton just spent 90 minutes with 10 men behind the ball then there would be an argument they got what they deserved. But the irony of Divock Origi’s goal was that it came after Everton’s finest Anfield derby performance in years.
It was hard to take.
At that stage Everton were on the cusp of the top six, but nine defeats in 16 games since has seen the season collapse all around them.
The hope therefore is that the return meeting can somehow have the opposite impact, certainly amongst a fanbase weary at yet another season of under-achievement.
Silva will also see a derby victory as a potential job-saver. While Tuesday’s win at Cardiff and seemingly ended any lingering fears of relegation, three points on Sunday would give Silva enough credit with the supporters to banish any speculation about his job until at least the end of the season.
That would then give him and the players some freedom to express themselves between now and May as well look for tangible signs of progress.
The galvanising affect a derby win could have on the team and the supporters cannot be downplayed and could be the turning point in Silva’s Everton career.
The fact Liverpool are going for the title would make it all the sweeter and make all the frustration we have had to cope with this season seem worth it (almost).
Liverpool head across Goodison Park one point clear at the top after getting their title challenge back on track with a 5-0 win over Watford FC on Wednesday.
They have, of course, a formidable derby record, unbeaten in their last 18 meetings in all competitions going back to October 2010. Interestingly though the Reds have only done the league double over Everton twice in that time.
I doubt you will be surprised to hear that Liverpool have scored more 90th+ minute winning goals against Everton in the Premier League than any other side (given we are also on our longest streak without a trophy, is it any wonder Evertonians feel like reaching for the bleach every weekend?).
To say we are due a win is an understatement.
Leighton Baines is Everton’s only injury absentee with Yerry Mina fit again whilst Kurt Zouma is available after suspension.
Phil Jagielka and Morgan Schneiderlin made surprise starts in Tuesday’s win at Cardiff and could retain their places.
Despite being cast adrift in mid-table, this game is hugely significant for Everton. Not just for local pride and the chance to halt Liverpool’s title charge but for Marco Silva’s future and the impact it will have on the rest of the season.
Things just haven’t been the same around the club and amongst the fans since the Anfield defeat so it would be apt if the return meeting could restore some pride and optimism around Goodison after a gloomy winter.