Just over 123 years after they first contested a match, Liverpool and Everton, the two footballing halves of the 2008 European Capital of culture – Liverpool city – will contest the opening Merseyside Derby of the 2017/18 Premier League.
The 229th edition of the famous fixture is scheduled to kick-off at 10:15 PM Malaysian Standard Time (MST), on Sunday evening, at Anfield.
For fans of the beautiful game, and especially those of these British monoliths, the match is more than just a display of tactical legerdemain by the teams’ respective managers – Jurgen Klopp and Sam Allardyce. It’s a fixture where pride meets piety for the supporters, with emotions raging high in the run-up to, during and beyond ninety minutes of adrenalin-high football.
Liverpool approach this game in 4th position on the table. On a roll with 16 goals scored in their 5 games, Klopp and his merry band of Reds fear no one at Anfield. What’s more intimidating is the sheer velocity with which the side pulled off a victory in their mid-week Uefa Champions League fixture against Spartak Moscow, 7-0.
With confidence sky high the Kop will expect nothing less than a win with the German gaffer’s glut of goal scoring resources. A 4-3-3 formation is on the cards.
The front six are unlikely to change with Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane expected to support Roberto Firmino, who will be deployed up front. The pace on the wings is likely to be the chief outlet of attack for the home team, as Philipe Coutinho, Emre Can and Gergino Wijnaldum man the centre of the park.
Central defence is set to be composed of Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren, with James Milner expected to deputise in the absence of Alberto Moreno, injured in midweek. Simon Mignolet will man the goal-line in his 151st competitive start for the club.
With shimmers of good form glistening before them, Everton traverse across Stanley Park aiming to stop their captivating neighbours. Allardyce’s Merseyside Derby debut is NOT set to be a trial by fire of his team’s progress since he took over the team just over a week ago.
However, considering the team’s considerable progress with two wins in two, which have also resulted in two clean sheets and six goals scored, the tie does hold immense significance for one of England’s most respected managers. He is expected to field a strong team captained by the man making a return to the hallowed fixture – Wayne Rooney.
The Everton captain makes a return to Anfield in the Blue, after a reverential stint at Manchester United. The 32-year-old is expected to be aided in his efforts at Mignolet’s goal by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewis. Expect Morgan Schneiderlin to anchor midfield with Idrissa Gueye, as the away team will look to blockade the Reds’ route completely to goal.
Phil Jagielka is set to return to the heart of central defence alongside Ashley Williams. Jordan Pickford will look to be at his best in the number one jersey.
Liverpool are unbeaten in the last 14 meetings against Everton. The Reds also lead the all-time wins chart against their bitter rivals 92 versus 66. The Reds need to avoid defeat in this game to equal their record run against the Toffees, 15 games, between 1972 and 1978.
With a majority of the season still remaining, it’s unlikely this result will the focal point of everything else to follow. But considering it’s the Merseyside Derby –there is a lot more at stake than just bragging rights.