Two of the Premier League’s top six meet on Saturday (12:45 GMT, live on BT Sport 1) when Everton host Liverpool in the 221st Merseyside derby.
Everton have made a good start to the season and are sixth in the Premier League table with 20 points from five wins, five draws and just one defeat. They are undefeated in five matches at Goodison Park, including victory over Chelsea and a draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Long-serving manager David Moyes left the club to take over at Manchester United this summer and his successor, Roberto Martinez (pictured), appears to have settled in quickly. Martinez is famed as a coach who likes his teams to play short-passing, possession football and there is already evidence that his ideas have taken hold at his new club.
Everton have a higher average share of possession (58.1% to 52.9%) and complete a greater percentage of their passes (83.8% to 79.4%) than they did under Moyes last season. Control of matches is established through possession, but if there is a criticism of Everton it is that they have sometimes lacked a cutting edge in the final third.
The 0-0 draw away to Crystal Palace that preceded the international break was Everton’s fourth goalless draw of the campaign. While the power and pace of on-loan Chelsea striker Romelo Lukaku and outright rapidity of Kevin Mirallas are capable of causing problems for most opposition defences, Everton can be neutered if the pair are well marshalled.
Martinez is only a few months into his reign and his side will surely develop as the season continues. His new approach has already done wonders for Ross Barkley, who has flourished in a creative midfield role, earning an England call-up on the back of his impressive performances so far this season.
Martinez is expected to be without Arouna Kone, Apostolos Vellios and Darren Gibson for Saturday’s match, while Antolin Alcaraz is carrying a knock that puts his participation in doubt.
After finishing a place below Everton in seventh last season, Liverpool have made an excellent start to the current campaign and sit second in the table with 23 points from seven wins, two draws and two defeats, two points shy of leaders Arsenal.
Liverpool began the season with a number of low-scoring matches but have kicked into a higher gear since the return of Luis Suarez, scoring an average of 2.67 goals per match over their last six matches. Suarez has been in terrific form and he and Daniel Sturridge (eight goals in 11 matches) form one of the most potent strike partnerships in the league.
Suarez played the full 90 minutes for Uruguay on Wednesday night before being whizzed back to England on club owner John Henry’s private jet. Sturridge, likewise, was on the field for the entirety of England’s friendly defeat to Germany on Tuesday, just days after recovering from a minor thigh injury. It will be interesting to see how sharp the pair is for this match.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has displayed a good deal of tactical flexibility so far this season, brushing aside the accusations of naivety that have often plagued him in the past. His side usually look to get on the front foot and attack, but have also formed a very effective defensive shield when necessary, such as in the 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
There have only been two real missteps. The first came when a Suarez-less line-up was pressed into oblivion by a tireless Southampton side in a 1-0 home defeat. The second was a 2-0 away defeat to an Arsenal side who were able to effectively shackle Liverpool’s forwards and make good attacking progress down the flanks.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Iago Aspas and Sebastian Coates, while Kolo Toure and Steven Gerrard are both carrying knocks.
Everton vs Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
These two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in last season’s equivalent fixture, with all four goals scored before the half time break. Liverpool are undefeated in six Merseyside derbies at all venues and have won three of the last five meetings between the sides at Goodison Park.
Both sides have performed well this season and this derby is sure to be a well-contested match, although Liverpool should be considered marginal favourites. Everton are still a work in progress, while Liverpool, in Rodgers’ second year in charge, are a cohesive unit with a very talented forward line.
- Back Liverpool to win @ 6/4 with Betfred, Ladbrokes or Unibet.
- Suarez has been in sparkling form since his return from suspension and has also scored away to Everton in each of the last two seasons. Even in slightly fatigued condition he can be fancied to get himself on the scoresheet again this weekend. Back Luis Suarez to score at anytime @ best odds of 6/4 with BetVictor.