Everton will aim to stay ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League table by securing a positive result when they host their local rivals in the Merseyside derby on Sunday (13:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Everton have made a very solid start to the season and come into the derby on the back of just one defeat in their first nine matches in all competitions. They are fifth in the Premier League table with 12 points from three wins, three draws and one defeat.
Roberto Martinez’s (pictured) team came back from two goals down to record an impressive turnaround victory away to West Bromwich Albion on Monday. Goals either side of half-time gave them a mountain to climb, but they scaled it courtesy of two goals from Romelu Lukaku and a single strike from Arouna Kone. Gerard Deulofeu provided two assists in a promising display.
Martinez was encouraged by the spirit his side showed in overcoming such a deficit just a few days after coming back from a goal down to defeat Reading in the Capital One Cup. The fixture list handed them a tough start to the season – by the end of October they will have already faced all of last season’s top eight – but they have coped admirably so far.
Everton finished 11th in the Premier League last season and will be aiming for an improved placing this time around. Their start to the campaign suggests that they should be able to challenge for a top-eight finish, particularly if Lukaku continues his good early-season form and they can avoid a repeat of the injury problems they have suffered to date.
Martinez will be without the injured Leighton Baines (ankle), Steven Pienaar (hamstring), Tom Cleverley (ankle) and Tony Hibbert (knee), while Kevin Mirallas is suspended. John Stones (thigh), Muhamed Besic (hamstring) and Seamus Coleman (knock) are doubtful but are expected to return in time to take part.
Liverpool have endured a mixed start to the new campaign and are the only side in the Premier League’s top 10 with a negative goal difference. They are ninth in the table, with 11 points from three wins, two draws and two defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Sion in the Europa League on Thursday. Adam Lallana put them ahead inside the opening five minutes, but their visitors equalised soon thereafter and an under-strength Liverpool side were unable to take advantage of the chances they created in what was a fairly uninspiring encounter.
The draw marked the seventh time in Liverpool’s last eight matches in all competitions that they have failed to secure victory inside 90 minutes, and they come into the Merseyside derby in need of a strong result to provide them with some impetus going forward. They have been very pedestrian in the season’s early weeks and pressure is building on Rodgers.
The truth is that from their performances so far this season Liverpool look like a solid top-eight side but are a bit too sloppy in defence and lack that little extra bit of magic in the final third to be genuine top-four contenders. Daniel Sturridge did enliven their attack during last weekend’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa but his injury record makes him an unreliable saviour.
Rodgers will be without the injured Christian Benteke (hamstring), Dejan Lovren (ankle), Jordan Henderson (foot), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Roberto Firmino (back) for the short trip across town.
Our Everton v Liverpool Preview’s Betting Tips
These two sides played out a 0-0 draw in last season’s equivalent fixture, while the earlier meeting at Anfield also ended in a tie. Indeed, five of the last six Merseyside derbies have ended in draws. Everton have won just one, to Liverpool’s three, of the last 10 league meetings at all venues, and one, to Liverpool’s two, of the last six at Goodison Park.
This match marks the start of a difficult three-game run for Everton, who have Manchester United and Arsenal still to come before the month is out. On paper, this looks the most winnable of those fixtures and Martinez and his side will be confident that they are playing well enough to secure Everton’s first victory in this fixture since 2010.
Liverpool also have some taxing fixtures to come in the aftermath of their trip to Goodison Park and could really do with taking all three points themselves following a fairly uninspiring start to the campaign. But Rodgers has continually tinkered without yet finding the right formula and there is little to suggest that he will suddenly strike gold this weekend.
Indeed, both teams are likely to be frustrated in their hopes of securing victory, as we believe that a draw is the most probable outcome. With that in mind, here are our preview’s betting tips: