While he has managed to gain the ascendency over Liverpool in the Premier League standings, Everton boss David Moyes will now be desperate to have that new-found superiority reflected in the Merseyside derby.
Everton finished above Liverpool in the standings last season and have begun this campaign with far better results than their more illustrious rivals. However, throughout his more than 10 years in charge on the blue half of Merseyside, Moyes has come out on top against Liverpool just four times. The record has not been improving either with Everton winning just one and losing seven in the last 10 meetings with the Reds.
Sitting fourth in the table before the weekend’s games, Everton should go into Sunday’s contest high on confidence. Their form has stuttered a little, though, in recent weeks as they have drawn their past two games, against struggling Wigan and Queens Park Rangers.
In contrast to Moyes’ experience, opposite number Brendan Rodgers will be leading out a side in a Merseyside derby for the first time. In terms of results, it has not been an easy baptism for the former Swansea boss, although there are signs that some encouraging performances are beginning to be converted into results.
Liverpool appear to have cut out the frustrating errors and have now kept cleans sheets in each of their last three matches in all competitions. The side’s biggest problem of the squad’s lack of firepower still remains, though. In those three matches just two goals have been scored—in narrow victories over Reading last weekend and Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League on Thursday.
With Fabio Borini out until the New Year and the transfer window still firmly closed, Liverpool’s reliance on Luis Suarez looks set to continue for a while yet. There is better news at the other end of the pitch with Pepe Reina back in training, although Rodgers has said that he will assess the goalkeeper’s fitness leading up to kick-off.
For Everton, key midfielder Marouane Fellaini will face a late fitness test as he returns from a knee injury suffered on international duty. Steven Pienaar will be out through suspension, following his sending off against QPR.
D: Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
M: Mirallas, Neville, Osman, Osman
D: Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson
M: Gerrard, Allen, Sahin
F: Assaidi, Suarez, Sterling
Prediction: Despite being away from home and Everton playing with a more attractive style this season, Liverpool will be expected to dominate possession. That control of the ball may well be needed with Rodgers having selected a full-strength side against Anzhi less than 72 hours prior to Sunday’s kick-off.
While Rodgers focuses on the technical rather than the physical side of the game, the atmosphere of the Merseyside derby could still result in a more than a few booking with the possibility of the referee also being forced to dig out a red card.
There looks to be little between the sides at the moment and the match promises to be a tightly-fought affair that could well end with the points being shared.
Everton 1-1 Liverpool
Where to watch: The Premier League contest kicks-off from Goodison Park at 9.30 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available via ESPN3.