By Daniel Ghorbal
If you were told that this was the team with the best home record in the division against the team with the worst away record, the conclusion you’d reach is that this should be a home banker for Liverpool, with little chance of a rare Everton victory.
However, football most definitely does not work in that way and despite the contrasting form of these two fierce rivals, one assurance is that this will not be a walk in the park against a team fighting for their lives. After a positive week picking up three points against Manchester United and seeing fellow relegation rivals Burnley controversially sack their manager Sean Dyche, things suddenly look precarious again as the Clarets won 2-0 against Southampton to reduce the gap to just one point. A victory for them over Wolves would place Everton into the relegation zone prior to Sunday’s Merseyside Derby.
Despite the tedious position Frank Lampard’s side find themselves in, recent performances have been improved as they aim to avoid a shock relegation. Although the quality within the games against Newcastle, Man United and Leicester have not been anywhere near top level, one thing they haven’t lacked is spirit and that is something they will bring in abundance to Anfield.
From the outset, you would argue that Everton would have put up more of a fight than what United did in midweek, and the fans will demand that as a bare minimum. Even the most staunch Evertonians admit that their club is nowhere near the level of Liverpool as things stand, but in a way seeing the way Man Utd approached the game at Anfield has shown them how not to take on Klopp’s destroyers. Keeping it tight and making it a frustrating watch for the crowd should be the obvious aims for the visitors, and with the likes of Alex Iwobi, Mykolenko and Richarlison in good form, they have players that can hurt Liverpool if they are to turn up with the right attitude and application.
Defensively, Everton have been nothing short of shambolic away from home, with heads beginning to drop whenever they fall behind in games. The only win on their travels this season came back in August against Brighton, and ever since then just two draws have been added with defeats left, right and centre.
It wouldn’t be outrageous to say that none of their centre halves have found form at any stage of the season, with Godfrey, Keane, Holgate and Mina all suffering injuries at different points and disrupting any potential to build a partnership. Godfrey and Mina started the most recent game against Leicester and many consider those two to be the clubs strongest defenders. Whether or not Yerry Mina can stay fit has been the question hovering over the Colombian throughout his time at the club, but the stats don’t lie that the Toffees are a better side with Mina in, so having his leadership and experience at the heart of the defence will be vital if Everton are to have any hopes of picking up a result.
Likewise, Calvert-Lewin’s ongoing injury record means Richarlison will be crucial as an outball to try and get his side up the pitch. He has proved across the last few years that he is a player who can give the top teams some worries, as he showed in last years historic 2-0 win against Liverpool.
The odds are massively against Everton and although survival hopes will ultimately be defined by their important home games, staying positive and being disciplined is the bare minimum for Sunday’s trip across the park. If Lampard’s team can shadow the spirit and determination showed in their recent fixtures, then the least they can come away with is some credibility and momentum to take into a simply huge game against Watford.
Predicted Everton team: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Godfrey, Mykolenko, Allan, Doucoure, Delph, Iwobi, Gordon, Richarlison