So not this year, then. Another Anfield derby, the passage of another season without a victory on Liverpool’s patch and another painful post-mortem for Everton following a third successive defeat in the all-Mersey tussle. It’s so routine now, Blues fans have become numb to it, although the pain can never truly be dulled enough.
On this occasion, the form book favoured Everton but ultimately the league table was a better indicator of the likely destination of the points and on an occasion that demands that star players rise above the fray, Liverpool were simply better. Needing to be on top of their game themselves, the Blues were found badly wanting in almost all departments.
The injuries that disrupted Ronald Koeman’s back line were significant, particularly that of Seamus Coleman, but it was hard to see the Blues winning this game had the Irishman been fit because, not for the first time away from home against a top-four side, the manager got his tactics wrong and he was let down by his main enforcer, Idrissa Gueye.
Once more the Dutchman opted for a five-man defence with three centre halves and a five-man back line and, just as it was at Chelsea and Tottenham, the space in front was exposed, with Pennington’s inexperience, Gueye’s dereliction of duty and Koeman’s mystifying delay in addressing a demonstrably flawed formation important factors in the 3-1 defeat.
The young defender was pitched into his first derby on what was his first first-team appearance of the season alongside another 20-year-old, albeit one with more Premier League minutes under his belt, in the form of Mason Holgate. With Tom Davies, 18, in midfield and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 20 up front, it was a very youthful Blues line-up but it was the failure of Koeman’s “big-game” players on the one hand and the success of Jürgen Klopp’s on the other that ultimately proved to be the significant difference.
And it only took eight minutes. While Everton, and Ross Barkley in particular, succumbed unnecessarily to the increasingly out-dated imperative to indulge in the blood-and-thunder fare of the local grudge match — the Blues’ No. 8 was fortunate to avoid a yellow card just six minutes in and then a red card later in the first half — Liverpool (Emre Can aside) largely eschewed the frenetic and played the way they often do these days under Klopp: with speed and energy going forward.
Sadio Mané evaded a limp attempt at a tackle by Gueye in the centre of the park, accelerated past Davies’s despairing lunge and then sucked three Everton defenders to one side of the box before screwing a shot across Joel Robles and into the far corner of the goal. The defending was atrocious really and it threw a harsh spotlight on both Pennington and the decision to select him in such a difficult match.
The Reds were finding feet with crisp passes while the Blues struggled to build cohesive moves and they were guilty of affording Philippe Coutinho far too much room in which to operate at times. In a move that foreshadowed Liverpool’s second goal, the Brazilian side-stepped Pennington too easily cutting in from the left side of the area but was foiled when Robles pushed his shot into the air and Phil Jagielka headed the ball off his own goal line.
Everton levelled in the 28th minute, however, with their first chance of the game. Leighton Baines’s out-swinging corner was flicked on by Jagielka at the near post, Dejan Lovren couldn’t react quickly enough to hack it clear and the ball fell invitingly to Pennington who couldn’t miss in front of goal.
The return to parity lasted just three minutes, though, and once again it was a failure to close down and to show Coutinho inside that would prove costly. The Reds’ midfielder picked the ball up in space in central midfield and with no one closing him down until Gueye threw a lazy leg at him as he danced past, he advanced into the box, tied Pennington up in knots before curling an unstoppable shot inside Robles’s left-hand post.
Liverpool’s match-winners were showing up; Everton’s were hugely disappointing and Barkley benefited from leniency from referee Anthony Taylor when he went over the ball and caught Lovren mid-shin, seeing his name go into the book rather than receiving his marching orders. Truth be told, apart from his failure to book James Milner for deliberate handball in the second half, the much-maligned official managed the game very well.
The anticipated changes from Koeman at half time never came. The manager has not been shy about replacing players or switching formations when it’s been clear they weren’t working already this season but there was no activity from the bench until the 67th minute and by then it was too late.
Everton had shown a couple of glimpses that they might get back into the game, first when Ashley Williams popped up on the end of a free kick but couldn’t get enough purchase on the ball to test Simon Mignolet and then when Barkley forced a second save from the Belgian keeper with a deflected shot. But there wasn’t enough to suggest that retaining the five-man back line or persisting with the willing but limited Calvert-Lewin up front was going to be enough to turn the tide.
Klopp, meanwhile, was forced into a change when Mané pulled up injured but his replacement effectively sealed the game with a moment that eclipsed his compatriot, Romelu Lukaku at the other end. Divock Origi was introduced in the 57th minute when it became clear that Mané couldn’t continue and within three minutes he had scored.
Pennington played Holgate into trouble against the touchline, his attempted pass back infield was picked off by Coutinho who once again breezed past the lead-footed Gueye and slipped a pass to Origi behind the back-pedalling Williams. The Belgian took aim from 20 yards and smashed a shot almost down the centre of the goal.
That was the after-the-horse-has-bolted catalyst for movement off the Everton bench but while the switch involving Enner Valencia for Pennington was an obvious one, there appeared to be precious little logic in withdrawing Davies in favour of the veteran Gareth Barry. Worse was the fact that Kevin Mirallas remained on the bench until he was finally brought on in place of Calvert-Lewin with nine minutes left.
In between, two chances for Holgate, the first a shot from the angle that Mignolet palmed away and then a free header that he miscued wide, were about all the Blues could muster until Mirallas went on an excellent mazy run in the closing stages but could hammer a shot at the end of it high over the bar.
At the other end, meanwhile, Robles had to be alert to bat a curling Trent Alexander-Arnold shot wide as Liverpool threatened to pad their lead.
That would have been harsh on a depleted Everton side but the margin and manner of the Reds’ victory were emphatic enough to render thoughts of a late push by the Blues for the top four as fanciful. Even allowing for the injuries that prompted Koeman into his ill-advised line-up, there was an unsettling gulf in ability between the two teams that sharpened the focus once more on the Dutchman’s task this summer when the transfer window re-opens.
It will also have reignited the debate over Lukaku who was, again, virtually anonymous against a top-four team and failed to register a shot in the entire 90 minutes for the third time this season. (The other two times coming against Chelsea and Manchester United.)
There is much to be said for the argument that a striker of his style can’t do anything without support and without his team-mates giving him the ball. Certainly, he was starved for service, just as he was in the Goodison derby in December. On the rare occasions he saw the ball, however, his touch was poor and his distribution just as bad; a let-down when Everton needed him to be on razor sharp, inventive and unplayable. He was anything but.
So a defeat, then, that in many pundits eyes cements Everton as a top-seven side at best this season and the only way to reopen the discussion is for the Blues to go to Old Trafford on Tuesday and win. It will take a wholesale change in attitude and approach, though, Ronald Koeman throwing off his failed safety-first defensive strategy and the collection of players responsible for another unacceptably below-par derby performance taking a long, hard look at themselves. If they don’t, their manager surely will be.
Decimated by injuries, Koeman turns to youngsters Pennington, Holgate, Calvert-Lewin and Davies for the Anfield derby, where Everton entered the game having not won foe the longest period in their history.
A lively start saw the Everton youngsters pushing forward from the start and showing every sign of the intent and desire needed to take the game to Liverpool. Calvert-Lewin and then Davies and Barkley tired to press their way into the Liverpool area.
Can was caught by Barkley after lunging in for a 50-50 ball but no yellow card, only a talking to both captains from referee. But in their first attack, Mane scored with ease for Liverpool past a poorly positioned Robles with three defenders unable to block him.
Coutinho was next to dance into the Everton area, this time Williams was across to stop him, but the three-man back-line was already teetering, the gameplan in ruins, and Everton no longer winning tackles, no longer pressing forward and in danger of being overrun. Two terrible passes direct to red shirts from Baines didn't help. A good pass to Lukaku's feet just bounced back off him to a Liverpool defender.
A much better attack finally saw blue shirts in the Liverpool area but Holgate's cross was just too high for Lukaku. Everton could not hold possession and the Reds attack but thankfully their passing was poor too.
Barkley turned well and drove forward but his ball to Lukaku was telegraphed and Liverpool attacked with pace, Robles saving well but high as Coutinho sailed past Pennington the ball looping up toward the net where Jagielka was smart enough to get back and head it off the line.
Baines won Everton's first corner and took it, Jagielka heading wide at the near post. Barkley then drove forward but was cut down by Can in a decent position for Baines to drive into the big red wall. Davies dived in on Mane late, taking out Barkley as well, earning a yellow card. But Davies then was fouled by Lucas.
Baines took Everton's second corner and it was Matthew Pennington who tuned it in off Gueye after it had been flicked on at the near post. 1-1, Game on.
But Coutinho found space, danced past Blue shirts and curled the ball past Robles again, hopelessly beaten and Everton blocking absent. Pennington and Holgate were struggling. A Liverpool corner ended with a push by a red shirt.
Everton looked to break forward but Barkley showed too much of it to Lovren and stood on Lovren's foot as he tried to recover the ball: yellow card (never a red despite rabid calls from the 'pundits'). Lucas bundled into Holgate in front of the technical area, as the Blues continued to labour when they did get forward, with very little service to Lukaku, Calvert-Lewin seeing precious little of the ball.
Coutinho threatened again but Gueye dispossessed him brilliantly before the whistle went for half-time, with Everton struggling to play their forward game.
Lukaku went wide and had to cross, but nothing came of it after the game restarted with no changes from Ronald Koeman. Calvert-Lewin was tripped, Barkley played in a very good ball that Williams got his foot to but no force. Easy for Mignolet.
At the other end, Can's shot ricocheted off Coutinho with the goal gaping, while at the other end, Barkley won a corner but it was headed away. Barkley slipped and was trodden on. Holgate could not cross Barkley's free-kick.
Calvert-Lewin had a chance to run forward with a loose ball that he was easily relieved of. That was after Baines and Mane had tangled, Mane requiring treatment.Walking to the sideline, he then collapsed dramatically on the touchline and rolledd back onto the pitch.
Barkley conjoured a shot that deflected up and bounced up into Mignolet's hands.Barkley then made a brilliant run across the dee but Holgate was blocked immediately. At the other end, Origi lashed a shot wide across goal.
In the next attack, Coutinho created the opportunity aand Origi was given all the space in the world, Williams massively at fault, and made no mistake.
A poor touch by Williams left him no option but to dive in with Can also stretching but the Everton player picked up the third yellow card of the game, Can's knee giving him trouble. While Barry and Valencia replaced Pennington and Davies.
Can came in with his studs showing on Gueye: Yellow card. Everton put together a good attack but somehow they failed to score. [69']
Everton attacked again but it broke down and there was a lot of space behind them.
Holgate's early cross won a free-kick as Milner handled the ball behind. Baines drove it in but it was headed away.
Calvert-Lewin was no match for Matic down the Everton left. Everton looked to break but Lovren made an easy tackle to keep the ball away from Lukaku. Can wriggled away from Baines and Arnold stabbed the ball toward the top corner but Robles pulled off a brilliant save to push it away.
Liverpool attacked with more intent and Robles had to be alert, with Mirallas replacing Calvert-Lewin for the last 10 minutes. Barkley was dispossessed by Origi in his own area, resulting in a corner that was defended away. But they kept pushing the dispirited Blues back, Arnold taking a potshot that Robles patted down.
An increasingly rare Everton attack was halted when Lukaku was accused of pushing. Everton had nothing to offer as the game had been lost since well before Origi's goal. Mirallas lashed over after making a good run from midfield. Lukaku played in a poor cross that was well past Barkley at the far post.
The pain was finally brought to an end. Eighteen games at Anfield in the 21st Century without an Everton win. Pitiful.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Can [Y:67'], Lucas, Wijnaldum, Mane (56' Origi), Firmino (91' Klavan), Coutinho (76' Alexander-Arnold).Subs: Karius, Grujic, Moreno, Woodburn.
Everton: Robles, Jagielka, Williams [Y:63'], Holgate, Pennington (66' Barry), Davies [Y:26'] (66' Valencia), Gana, Baines, Barkley [Y:38'], Lukaku, Calvert-Lewin
Subs:Stekelenburg, Kenny, Lookman, Kone, Mirallas.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
From my seat: Liverpool (A)
The day after the lunchtime before and it still feels like one big hole in the stomach. A lunch time drink and a parlay over the goings on was sombre. It’s a hell of a long time since 1999 and yesterday we never looked like breaking that hoodoo. That hoodoo started with the international break which was just how it left Seamus. Mori did his knee in South America whilst in Ireland the goings on with McCarthy left him out plus our mew man Morgan having a poorly calf. How would we cover for that quartet?
In looking for answers I could do no more than give my take on what I saw. It started with receiving the team an hour before kick-off and noting we were blooding four young kids into the white hot heat of a derby away at Anfield. I opined that if they were to freeze it could end up a game of 11 versus 7 and we could get over run. It also highlighted how thin the squad is of experienced cover, cover that will be vital if we do manage the Europa.
I am sure by now you will have read all the reports and seen many a rerun of film clips and most will have reported that Everton were very poor and no one had even a half decent game, but why?
As that game went on I thought our youthful quartet did freeze and this left the other players a bit wary of fully trusting them which led to some almighty cock ups, miss- controls, miss- passes and non-existent teamwork. I felt sorry for the young lads and to be fair to the senior players they tried to help them with advice that from time to time you could hear, eg, Ross telling Holgate where the wing back should be as a move broke down once again Jags also did his fair share to get the lads going.
Liverpool’s goals showed the uncertainty between players as all three were quite preventable but in each case the scorer was afforded time and space to score. This was possible in my view because we had too many youngsters plus the international break leaving little time to plan things. We ended up learning on the job.
Before the end Blues fans were leaving in some numbers and I must admit the final whistle was music to my ears. I heard it said many times that we can learn from this and I am sure we can but hell there is not much time till Tuesday and the small matter of an away trip to Old Trafford plus hot on the heels of that a home game against the reigning Premier League Champions. Many pointed to our want-away world class players being unable to perform in big games and that might be true but for me it is the manager and his staff that have to look firstly at themselves and then sort out some semblance of togetherness out on the pitch.
The players need to be open and honest in answering why it was that not one of them played anything like they did against let’s say Bournemouth West Brom or Hull. Was it really big game jitters. Still we need to rely on Ronald to work some magic and cover for our injured with players that can at least make a team that works all for one – one for all rather than unsure of who is doing what and end up doing nothing.
Until the club have a chance to do significant work in the summer widow, our man Ron will need all he has got to get us to seventh and the Europa League.
They say no two games are the same so I live in hope that Tuesday night at least gets our spirit fight and joined-up football back. A win on top could send us singing up the East Lancs Road, a la Oviedo game. Or another performance like Saturday... surely not!
Keep the faith
UP THE BLUES
Missed opportunities cost us
Over the years there's just been too many times that I've dared to dream going to Anfield only to leave dissappointed, that now I go with no real expectation at all.
Still we went. My brother actually flew in from New York for this one and after my Dad dropped us over near Soctland Road, we had a quick pint at the pleasant Barlow Arms before making the relatively short walk across Stanley Park. We gave ourselves a bit of time. On the last few visits to Anfield we've set off through Stanley Park a little too late and ended up getting caught in a chaotic queue to get into Anfield. This time we were inside some 20 minutes before kick off and even had time for a quick beer in there before finding our seats in time for kick off. Pre-game there was a fitting tribute to Ronnie "Bugsy" Moran from the Kop End before we got under way.
Like most I imagine, I was surprised to see Matthew Pennington included. My assumption was that Gareth Barry would be in to add steel into the middle. Though the selection raised an eyebrow, I wasn't exactly disappointed. It's good to give the young players opportunities and Dominic, Mason, Matthew and Tom will all have learnt a lot from the defeat. It was a shame we were so hampered by injuries. Losing both Morgan Schniederlin and James McCarthy was a heck of a blow, as too was Seamus Coleman. There's also Ramiro Funes Mori and not to mention the long term absentees of Muhammed Besic and Yannick Bolasie. I was watching ToffeeTV on YouTube in the morning and the host Peter McPartland made a good point that we never seem to be able to go there with our best team, likening it to going in with one arm tied behind your back against a karate expert.
It was a shame we conceded so early as up until then there was nothing in the game. I believe it was in fact the first real attack of the game when Mane had us panicking, his low drive eventually going through the legs of Matthew Pennington and finding the corner. Phillippe Coutinho missed a good opportunity which was well saved by Joel Robles and then headed away from under his crossbar by Phil Jagielka.
We eventually settled somewhat and were able to get up the pitch a bit more and forced a corner. This shows Liverpool's vulnerability somewhat from set-pieces, as it was quite easy for us to force a goal - a flick on from Phil Jagielka, the ball breaking loose to the alert Matthew Pennington who stabbed home from close range. Having now watched the game back, one of the pleasing moments was seeing how much it meant to the young players when they celebrated the goal.
It was short lived of course and a bit of magic from Philippe Coutinho soon had Liverpool back in front. I never really watch Liverpool games so don't really see enough of Coutinho, but I was impressed with how he took that goal. He runs at you with pace and just shows you enough of the ball to make you believe you can nick it, and then it's gone, and he' s past you. He lead Matthew Pennington a merry dance before finishing well past Joel Robles and Liverpool were ahead again....Coutinho, Firmino and Mane celebrating like dicks.
With little else created before the break I was relieved enough to go in at 1-2. The system wasn't working and we needed to give them more to worry about in attacking areas as it was easy enough for them to focus on our main goal hope Romalu Lukaku. No change was made at the break however and we returned to the field as you were.We began the second half brightly and missed two golden chances before Liverpool went 3-1 ahead. Ashley Williams had a pretty good opportunity when, again highlighting Liverpool's vulnerability from set-pieces he got to a deep free kick and when he perhaps could have headed goalwards or put his laces through the ball, he could only tamely side-foot his volley straight into Simon Mignolet. To be fair to Williams, as the lad next to us pointed out, he was probably expecting Mignolet to come for the ball, not do nothing. The other big chance came and went when I think Ross Barkley found Mason Holgate inside the penalty area with a great opportunity to shoot. Given how close he came to scoring later on he'll regret not having a go when the chance came. Instead he tried to square the ball and it was cleared.
It can't have been long after that when Liverpool went 3-1 ahead. Quite how substitute Divock Origi found himself in so much space, central on goal, I'm not sure, but that he did; however, what Joel Robles was doing, I just don't know. He was in no-man's land, way off his line, and for some bizarre reason decided to second-guess which way Origi was going to put the ball before he struck. As he decided to set to go one way, it was too easy for Origi to slot the ball the other way. He didn't even have to nearly find the corner.
Though we rallied and created a few more openings, it was not making the most of our opportunities and then gifting Liverpool their third goal which killed us. With our two opportunities we didn't even test the goalkeeper really, and then we gave them a simple goal. Had we have gotten to 2-2 with Mane off the field injured you never know how it might have transpired. Simon Mignolet also made a wonder save from Mason Holgate's deflected drive and Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed a good headed opportunity. Had we have gotten to 2-3 with time left in the game, who knows?
I'm not sure Liverpool were necessarily that much better than us. They took two goals very well and were gifted another. We created enough but were wasteful. We also missed key players with injury. The young lads will learn from it. I don't necessarily blame Ronald Koeman for going with three at the back. I can see why he didn't want to put Gareth Barry in there. Mason Holgate's most notable performances this season have been on the right of a three man centre back partnership. Though he tried, his ability to get forward and get crosses in from right wing back isn't really his game. Maybe putting a more natural right back there like Jonjo Kenny and putting Mason where he is more comfortable in the centre might have reaped better rewards.
On we go, then... and while disappointed we lost, I'm optimistic we can come back to Anfield stronger next season.
Robles: There was one moment in the first half when I wondered why he didn't come for what seemed like a routine cross, but his biggest sin was with Liverpool's third goal. I've no idea what he was doing. After some pretty major blips at Tottenham Hotspur and now at Anfield, I'd be tempted to put Maarten Stekelenburg in for Tuesday's trip to Old Trafford. 5
Baines: Did pretty well getting up and down the flank throughout. 6
Jagielka: Held firm at the back and was the best of our three defenders. 7
Williams: I thought he generally had a good game also. Will rue that missed opportunity. 7
Pennington: He struggled but never hid and didn't let anyone down. Nice to see him score his first Everton goal. 6
Holgate: He will also rue not shooting when he had a great chance. He'll also be disappointed that Simon Mignolet made a brilliant save to deny his deflected drive. Overall he didn't let anyone down, but we did miss quality of delivery from the right side. 6
Gana: Was our best midfielder. Showed quality in the tackle and composure on the ball. Speaking to a few Reds in the pub later on, they were all very complimentary of him. The ironic thing is that he will be disappointed not to have won his tackles in the build-up to their first two goals. 7
Davies: Was hampered by his early yellow card and then couldn't impact on the game as he would have wished. He still did pretty well and will learn a lot from the game and come back stronger next season. 6
Barkley: Had an infuriating game but, as my brother pointed out, he always at least has the courage to come back and try again once he makes a mistake. The easy thing to do would be to stay out of it but he never stops looking for the ball. We needed more from Ross to win this one. That didn't come but it wasn't for lack of effort. Oh, but stamp out that diving please, Ross. It's not welcome here. 5
Calvert-Lewin: Though he missed a golden chance I thought he had an excellent game, his best one yet for us, and he fully justified his inclusion. I now see why Ronald has persevered with him. My Man of the Match. 7
Lukaku: Isolated at times and Liverpool did a good job of stopping him, but I believe he could have given us more. If he wants that move to a Champions League club, he really has to make his mark against some of the big teams. Lucky for him, he's got another big chance to do that on Tuesday at Old Trafford. 5
Valencia (for Davies): Made quite a big impact and caused them some problems down the right. 7
Barry (for Pennington): He tried his best to influence the game in difficult circumstances. 6
Mirallas (for Calvert-Lewin): Probably should have been introduced sooner. He was certainly looking a bit miffed warming up on the touchline and he did one great run before skying way over the crossbar. Made a decent impact in a short space of time, which hints at what might have been. 7
What a difference (almost) a year makes. While Evertonians approached this fixture last season with a particularly deep dread that was more than justified by the horror show that subsequently unfolded, this weekend's trip to Anfield will be approached with a very different mindset by the Blues.
Top of the form table for the 2017 calendar year so far, the team gelling nicely under the management of Ronald Koeman, and the uplifting news that an imminent land-purchase deal for Bramley-Moore Dock promises to begin the road to a new home on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey, things are looking decidedly more rosy than they were during the death throes of Roberto Martinez's tenure.
Yet, trepidation remains for Blues fans who haven't witnessed an Everton win at Anfield since 1999. (How much longer do we have to read that sentence?) Shorn of the energy and talents of Seamus Coleman, weakened by injury to Ramiro Funes Mori and possibly without Morgan Schneiderlin as well, the Toffees will, once again, be dealing with selection problems for the annual grudge match across Stanley Park.
With four goals, three assists and a pivotal role in Koeman's attacking strategy, Coleman will be hugely missed but in Mason Holgate, Everton an enthusiastic and adept deputy who has already demonstrated an effectiveness at right back. He gets forward well and has the natural defensive aptitude of a centre-half.
That is, of course, if Koeman opts for a conventional back four over a five-man defence with that would require Holgate in a central trio alongside Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams. Given the pace that exists in the Liverpool line-up, however, it would need to be a compact and defensively-minded quintet that would limit the Blues' attacking options somewhat.
The deciding factor in just how Everton play is likely to be the fitness — or lack thereof — of Morgan Schneiderlin as he tries to recover from a calf strain. The Frenchman has quickly established himself as the linchpin of the midfield and Evertonians will be eagerly awaiting any news of his availability from the manager at his press conference this afternoon.
The fear is that should he fail to make it, Koeman will turn to Gareth Barry rather than take the preferred option of pulling Tom Davies back to partner Idrissa Gueye in front of a back four. The veteran brings obvious experience but as he showed in the Goodison derby in December, his lack of speed prompts the team to drop off 10 to 15 critical yards, space that the reds ruthlessly exploited in that game. Davies, on the other hand, has the engine and the stamina to go box-to-box much more easily.
Providing Everton aren't as defensive and unthreatening as they were in the reverse fixture, the key — apart from shaking off the psychological shackles — to a long overdue triumph at Anfield will be Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian has been on fire lately and stands on his own as the Premier League's top scorer so its imperative that the Blues find ways to give the ammunition he needs to do what he does best.
He will have a personal point to prove, too — apart from an ultimately meaningless goal at the Emirates in the FA Cup, his only goals on the grounds of the biggest teams in the land have come at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City. He has an opportunity this weekend to etch his name deeper into Everton history by living up to his reputation and scoring the winner.
Giving him service will prove difficult if the last few derbies are an indication of how this one will go. A virtual spectator as the Blues were humiliated last April and starved of the ball at Goodison in December, Lukaku hasn't really had much opportunity to affect a derby game since he scored the equaliser against the reds in October 2015.
Liverpool play with what can be a suffocating intensity, particularly at home, and they have potential match winners of their own in the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. It will be up to Everton to mitigate Jurgen Klopp's mandated pressing tactics on the one hand and avoid spending too much time on the back foot as the reds attack on the other.
The good news is that Klopp will be without one of his star players himself in the form of Adam Lallana, while Jordan Henderson also looks set to be ruled out through injury. Both will be big misses for Liverpool and boons to Everton as we hopefully make a concerted effort to start addressing our awful record in local derbies.
More than just local pride is at stake, too. An Everton victory would pull them within just three points of Liverpool and set up the possibility, however optimistic, that they could sit above their bitter rivals come Wednesday evening. That would, of course, require the Toffees to win at Old Trafford and Bournemouth to get all three points at Anfield but stranger things have happened.
One step at a time, though. Let's just win this one first…
Kick-off: Saturday, 1st April, 2017
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Last Time: Liverpool 4 - 0 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Robles, Holgate, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Barry, Gueye, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku