Merseyside Derby preview – could home advantage count once again?
THIS Sunday, the second Merseyside derby takes place at Anfield and with all seemingly lost for the home side and Everton harbouring slim hopes of qualifying for Europe next season, it could be one of the more meaningless recent games between the two sides. Despite the feeling that both teams’ campaigns are petering out, the upcoming match could be a classic.
Moyes to break habit of a lifetime
Throughout his time as Everton boss, two things have eluded David Moyes – silverware and an away victory against Liverpool. While they have a slight chance of making the Champions League places, he’ll want his side to do it, but poor form from some of his ‘star’ performers could see them consigned to Europa League football at best with a defeat.
Nikica Jelavic, for example, has been abysmal of late. He’s only scored once since the turn of the year, leaving team-mates Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini to pick up the pieces. On the other hand, Leighton Baines hasn’t been too bad and will want to impress before he inevitably joins a bigger, more ambitious club.
The suspension of Luis Suarez after yet another controversial incident was expected to see the offensive firepower of Liverpool seriously weakened. Fortunately, as the 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle United showed, they have others they can rely on including the improving Daniel Sturridge. He’s up against a better team this weekend, but he should have a few chances to get on the scoresheet.
Overall, the team without Suarez seems more cohesive and fluid, which is exactly what they could have done with earlier in the season. The likes of Jordan Henderson and Phillippe Coutinho have managed to impress in the past few months, and look like being key players in a couple of days’ time, not to mention for next season.
History in our favour
In the earlier fixture, a 2-2 draw was played out, although the Toffees have only won two of the last 10 meetings in all competitions. For the record, Liverpool have won five. The last time Everton won in the league was in the 1999/00 season, where they won 1-0. This was before Moyes arrived at Goodison Park and turned them into a borderline European-class side on a shoestring.
Liverpool are betting favourites to win the match at 20/21 with Ladbrokes. Home advantage will count for a lot, as will the form of Sturridge and Coutinho. However, we have a little less to play for than Everton, and they seem to have got over a recent bad patch, losing just one of their last eight games, although the Reds have lost just once in nine league outings.
Whatever the result may be, there could be a chance of a red card being shown at some point. The Merseyside derby has seen an astonishing 20 sending-offs since the formation of the Premier League in 1992. That’s more red cards than any other fixture in Premier League history, amounting to nearly one in every two matches!