Everton return to action on Sunday against league leaders and Merseyside rivals, Liverpool. The game kicks off at 7pm, and will be staged inside an empty Goodison Park.
Make sure to watch the Match Preview video: https://youtu.be/0YcNYyxyrnY
Following Manchester City’s win over Arsenal, Liverpool can no longer win the league title at Goodison Park on Sunday. Although a big relief for Evertonians, the fixture remains a very difficult one.
Since neither side has played a competitive game since March, it’s very difficult to predict how each side will look on Sunday evening. However, looking at the reverse fixture, pre-lockdown form, and injury news should give some indication of what to expect.
In December, Anfield hosted Liverpool’s 5-2 win over a struggling Everton side. Klopp’s team dominated early on, and were clinical with their chances. Although Liverpool thoroughly deserved the win, many Evertonians were critical of Mike Dean’s performance, and he returns to referee the derby on Sunday.
This was Marco Silva’s last game as manager of Everton, and left with the club in 18th position.
Since Silva’s departure, Everton had enjoyed a more positive 2020, yet still experiencing some disappointing results. Everton’s 5 results prior to lockdown were: Watford 2-3 Everton, Everton 3-1 Palace, Arsenal 3-2 Everton, Everton 1-1 Man Utd, Chelsea 4-0 Everton.
Despite these mixed results, Everton did miss big chances against Arsenal, and shouldn’t have had the winning goal disallowed against Man Utd. The Chelsea game, however, was very disappointing.
Although they’re top of the league by a distance, Liverpool were somewhat struggling before lockdown. Liverpool’s 5 results prior to lockdown were: Liverpool 3-2 West Ham, Watford 3-0 Liverpool, Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool (FA Cup), Liverpool 2-1 Bournemouth, Liverpool 2-3 Atletico Madrid (AET, Champions League).
It’s no secret that Everton’s recent record in the derby has been awful. The last time Everton registered a victory over Liverpool in all competitions was in a 2-0 victory on October 17, 2010 at Goodison Park in the Premier League. Since then, Everton have suffered 11 defeats and 10 draws in all competitions to Liverpool.
Having said this, Everton tend do tend to be better off at home in the derby, with 4 of the last 5 derbies at Goodison all ending in a draw. However, this is probably due to the home atmosphere, which will be absent on Sunday.
Andre Gomes should be fit for this weekend’s game, whilst it is still uncertain whether both Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph will be available. Gbamin, Schneiderlin, Walcott, and Tosun will all be unavailable for the derby.
The opposition on Sunday reportedly have no injured first-team players, and so will have a full-strength team available.
As there’s uncertainty over Yerry Mina’s fitness, it’s likely that Michael Keane will partner Mason Holgate in Everton’s defence. Seamus Coleman will probably play instead of Djibril Sidibe at right-back, as he’s better defensively. This also gives the opportunity for Sidibe to play as the right-midfielder in place of the injured Theo Walcott. However, Alex Iwobi could also play in this position.
With injuries to Gbamin, Schneiderlin, and potentially Delph, it’s likely to be Andre Gomes alongside Gyfli Sigurdsson (or Tom Davies) in central-midfield.
As previously mentioned, we don’t know how each team will look on Sunday it’s been so long since either side played a competitive match. With Liverpool’s performances this season, as well as Everton’s dire derby record, Klopp’s team will be big favourites.
However, the impact of Ancelotti mustn’t be underestimated. It’s the first time in decades that Everton will be going in to a derby, whilst managed by a truly world-class manager. He’s one of the most successful managers of all time, and has already come up against Liverpool twice this season, whilst at Napoli in the Champions League. Carlo’s Napoli beat Liverpool 2-0 at home, and drew 1-1 at Anfield.
Make sure to check out the Toffee TV YouTube channel for pre-match analysis, and post-match reaction videos.