Everton vs Liverpool: Match preview and predicted line-ups
The Merseyside derby is one of the most exciting fixtures in the Premier League and it is a great way for the division to sign off before Christmas day. It will take place on Monday and both teams will be desperate to give their fans an early present. Liverpool have had the better of the fixture in recent years, but Everton have a new manager in Ronald Koeman and are coming into the match on the back of an impressive victory over Arsenal.
Everton are well positioned in the top half of the table and they will have aspirations of challenging for European football this season. It won’t be easy, but they will have more money to spend in January and in Koeman, they have a manager that can keep improving the side on a window-by-window basis. He did so at Southampton and the potential of Everton is much larger. Although they will know that this is a long term project, they will be desperate to beat their local rivals on Monday and take their momentum into Christmas.
Meanwhile, the red half of Merseyside is delighted at the moment, as Jurgen Klopp has led them to second in the league and there is a potential title challenge on the cards. Their high intensity is perfectly suited to a derby match and they will know that they have to be at it to beat Everton. They are coming up against an improving Toffees side and it is crucial that the Liverpool players aren’t complacent. On paper, Liverpool are a better side, but in a derby game, anything is possible and that needs to be drilled into the players before kick-off.
Everton recorded their first win for six league matches during the week and it was crucial that they did so, as it provides them with positive momentum heading into the derby. Although it is said that form goes out of the window for derby matches, it is important that the players go into the game with confidence and the Everton players will after such an impressive display in the week.
Meanwhile, the Reds bounced back after a disappointing couple of results to beat Middlesbrough convincingly on Wednesday night. It allowed them to move up to second in the table and they are in a great position heading into the new year. They have the best attack in the league with 40 goals this season, but Everton will know that they can target the Liverpool back four as it has looked far from convincing this season.
The only change I’d expect for Everton is Ramiro Funes-Mori coming back into the side in place of the suspended Phil Jagielka. Although Ross Barkley isn’t a favourite of Ronald Koeman’s, he knows this fixture well and has the potential to play a big part for Everton. He needs to show his manager why he should be a regular in the first team.
Joel Matip should be back for Liverpool, which provides them with a huge boost defensively. Daniel Sturridge and Emre Can could be available, but I’d expect Jurgen Klopp to start them from the bench. Both have the quality to make an impact if required.
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Arouna Kone is closing in on a return, but will only feature on the bench if he does prove his fitness. Muhamed Besic and Yannick Bolasie remain on the long term injury list. Meanwhile, Phil Jagielka will be missing through suspension after his red card against Arsenal.
Daniel Sturridge, Emre Can and Divock Origi all face late fitness tests ahead of the match at Goodison Park. Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho both won’t feature.
It is impossible to call derby matches and this Merseyside derby could be one of the best for years. Both side are coming into the match after a win and there is excitement about the new managers of both Merseyside clubs. There will be goals in this one, as both sides have a good attack and haven’t convinced defensively. I’m going to predict a score draw, with plenty of entertainment for the neutrals. A draw should be enough to keep both sides happy going into Christmas.
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