This is shaping up to be one of the most hotly-contested Merseyside derbies for a long time, as Everton come into the fixture in great form. Liverpool are currently in the top four and have been excellent in big matches this season. They will be well prepared and will take great confidence from their recent success in the fixture. There should be goals as both sides have top-six attacks, with the Reds having scored the most goals in the division. Supporters from both sides will be debating the strengths of each team going into the fixture. Here is our combined eleven:
It is difficult to select a goalkeeper, as both will be looking to strengthen that department in the summer. Loris Karius could be the most talented, but he hasn’t been playing, which means that Joel Robles will get the nod. He has been dependable without ever starring and is a reliable Premier League number one. Everton will probably want better to meet their long-term aspirations.
Everton’s back four has improved in recent weeks with the Toffees keeping four clean sheets in their last five matches. Ashley Williams has slowly come into his own in Merseyside and plays a huge part in organising the defence. Although Leighton Baines may be past his peak, he remains one of the most complete left backs in the league. His delivery from set pieces is always dangerous, while he completes 3.9 ball recoveries per game.
The two Liverpool representatives in the defence are Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip. Seamus Coleman would have been a good candidate to be the right back, but he will be missing this weekend after a horrific injury contracted on international break. Clyne may not have developed as had hoped, but he is a decent Premier League full back. The Reds’ defence needs to be improved over the summer, but Joel Matip has impressed this season and deserves to be included in this eleven.
The only Reds player included in the midfield is Gini Wijnaldum. He had a slow start to his Anfield career, but he has been very good in recent fixtures and has scored some crucial goals. The Dutchman is excellent in transition and can play any of the three midfield roles that Jurgen Klopp utilises.
It is difficult to ignore Idrissa Gueye considering his fine season in a Blue shirt. He has been incredible since moving to Goodison Park and Everton did well to recognise his qualities. The midfielder was one of the few to impress for Aston Villa last season and he will be key to the Toffees dominating the middle of the park this weekend.
Ross Barkley is the player chosen to be the third midfielder. It is a close call between him and Emre Can, but the Everton man edges it thanks to his impressive recent form. He has contributed five assists in his last nine matches and it is clear that he is set for a much improved 2017. The 23-year-old is beginning to fulfil his undoubted potential and he will be a huge danger this weekend.
Sadio Mane has been one of the signings of the season, as he has contributed 12 goals and five assists. His pace and dynamism make him perfect for Klopp’s style of play. The Senegalese attacker was the difference in the last meeting between the Merseyside clubs and he will cause problems again this weekend.
Although Philippe Coutinho has faltered slightly since his return from injury, he remains one of the most talented players in the league and has to be included. He can produce moments of magic that few others can and he will be one to watch this weekend. The best players step up in big matches and the Brazilian has the potential to be the match-winner at Anfield.
Finally, the focal point will be Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian is the complete striker and he is now scoring the goals to match his ability. He has taken huge strides in his game recently with nine goals in his last six Premier League matches. It is only a matter of time before he moves to a bigger club.
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