Goodison Park, Liverpool
October 17th, 2010, 6:30 PM IST (1330 BST)
The Merseyside Derby, one the most fierce derby encounters in the world, could not have popped up at a better time. After a disappointing start to the season, both the teams are fighting at the wrong end of the table ,and the fact that Liverpool have successfully ousted their incompetent owners who were primarily responsible for their recent debacles, may not go down well with their beloved neighbors.
Both Everton and Liverpool have managed to win just one match this season and they sit tight near the bottom of the table. Everton’s performance over the season has been patchy. They drew Manchester United after equalizing in injury time courtesy Mikel Arteta and ended Birmingham City’s impressive home record via another injury time header from Tim Cahill. On the other hand, Liverpool have been nothing but disgraceful all along the seven matches this season. With new owners taking over the club, Roy Hodgson could very well find himself in the board room, explaining the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’, if Liverpool fail to get a positive result from the derby.
Hodgson’s approach, on and off the field, has largely been submissive and predictable. He has not been successful in inspiring the squad to perform and deliver under the hostile circumstances. His off the ball tactics are completely in contrast to that of Benitez and that is an important reason behind the failure of the team to get the right results. Against Everton, if Roy chooses to sit back and allow the opposition to attack, the results could be catastrophic. Going by the culture of Merseyside derby over the years, the midfield would be crowded, Meireles and Poulsen will hardly find any time on the ball and that could be the area, David Moyes would like to enforce his authortiy upon.
The return of Paul Konchesky would be a welcome relief for the Reds. Without a left footed player, Liverpool have looked toothless on the left part of the field, making the attack from the right monotonous, predictable and easy to cope with. This was a major reason behind the loss against Blackpool. However a medium term injury to Dirk Kuyt should come as a blow, as the Dutchman was one among the few impressive players in the Liverpool squad off late.
Everton have not beaten Liverpool in the league since September 2006. However the former would like to change that on Sunday, after an inspired win against Birmingham City last week. Everton players have been putting in grueling double sessions to help themselves climb the League table. The derby almost always always brings out the best in the players and a win at Goodison would not only rub salt on the wounds of fierce rivals Liverpool, but would also help Everton advance to the top half of the table.
Everton will miss Fellaini on Sunday, who suffered a hamstring injury during the International break. The Belgian international had bossed the midfield on previous encounters with the rivals. Even Jagielka is suspected to lose out on the game after he got injured during the international break.
Probable Starting Line-ups
Liverpool – Reina, Johnson, Carrager, Skrtel, Konchesky, Meireles, Poulsen, Gerrard, Jovanovic, Cole, Torres.
Everton – Howard, Jagielka, Distin, Neville, Baines, Heitinga, Arteta, Osman, Yakubu, Coleman, Cahill.
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Mikel Arteta (Everton)
The spaniard has always been impressive against the Reds. He even helped Everton secure a draw against Manchester United earlier in the season. The key to the fixture lies in the midfield, and if Everton aspires to win the match, which they most definitely do, Arteta would have to put in an inspiring performance.
Everton 2- 1 Liverpool
The adrenaline level would be high, the game would really be fast-paced and tackles would fly in from every possible corner. Considering the number of inexperienced players in the Liverpool lineup and Roy Hodgson’s defensive off the ball tactics, Everton are expected to boss the midfield, which holds key to the game. However, as Everton would play with a high back line, a slightest of mistakes from the centre-halfs could allow Fernando Torres to end his goal-drought.