Following mixed starts to the season, Liverpool and Everton will both be hopeful of victory when they meet at Anfield on Saturday in the 221st Merseyside derby (12:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
Liverpool narrowly lost out to Manchester City in last season’s Premier League title race, but have been far less impressive in the early weeks of the new season. They have won two and lost three of their opening five fixtures and are placed outside the top 10.
Brendan Rodgers’ side started sloppily away to West Ham last weekend, going two goals down inside the opening 10 minutes. Raheem Sterling reduced the deficit to one before the half-hour mark, but West Ham defended solidly thereafter and continued to threaten on the counter attack. They added a third goal in the dying minutes to condemn Liverpool to defeat.
Rodgers made a number of tactical tweaks during the match, but none of them produced the desired effect. His fiddling was dictated by circumstance, but it was nevertheless indicative of the struggles he has had in the early part of the campaign as he attempts to formulate a tactical scheme capable of drawing the best from the club’s myriad of new signings.
The departure of Luis Suarez has clearly weakened Liverpool’s attack and the effect of his absence has been amplified by that, through injury, of last season’s secondary scorer Daniel Sturridge. With less goals being scored and last season’s defensive troubles having carried over to the new campaign, there is a lot of work for Rodgers to do in the coming weeks.
The Liverpool manager will definitely be without the injured Sturridge (thigh), Emre Can (ankle), Joe Allen (knee), Jon Flanagan (knee) for this match, while Glen Johnson (thigh) is doubtful. Jordan Henderson (hip) and Philippe Coutinho (groin) will return after missing the penalty shootout victory over Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
Everton finished fifth last season, but they have not made a good start to the new campaign. They have won one, drawn two and lost two of their first five league fixtures and sit in the lower reaches of the nascent Premier League table.
The Toffees’ most recent league defeat came at home to Crystal Palace last weekend. They took an early lead through Romelu Lukaku (pictured) but thereafter allowed their visitors back into the match with three crucial defensive errors. Goalkeeper Tim Howard was at fault for Palace’s first two goals, while Leon Osman was caught in possession for the third. Palace won 3-2.
It was not the first time that problems at the back have hurt Everton this season. They have conceded two or more goals in four of their five league matches to date, including six in a home defeat to Chelsea. The Toffees had the third best defensive record in the league last season and need to rediscover some of that solidity sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, Everton remain a very similar side to last season. They play neat, possession-based football, with a solid midfield two, attacking full-backs and plenty of movement in the final third. They have scored twice or more in each of their league matches so far, suggesting that things are working for them at a least one end of the pitch.
Roberto Martinez will definitely be without the injured Ross Barkley (knee) for the short trip to Anfield, but he otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Liverpool vs Everton Betting Tips Verdict
Liverpool were comfortable 4-0 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture, while the reverse produced a highly entertaining 3-3 draw. The Reds have won three of the last five meetings between the sides at Anfield, with the other two ending in draws. It is 15 years since Everton last defeated Liverpool at Anfield.
Liverpool have endured a difficult start to the season and will be keen to kickstart their campaign with a victory over their local rivals. With Suarez gone and Sturridge – who scored twice in last season’s thrashing of Everton at Anfield – injured, they lack the attacking edge that was such a key part of their success last season.
Everton have also been a little disappointing in the early weeks of the campaign. Their defence has been far more porous than last season and while those in attack have begun the season well, Martinez will know that he needs to find a better balance between the two elements of his team if he hopes to take the club to a top six finish again.
We expect to see plenty of goals in this match but believe that the teams will eventually end the match on level terms.
- Back the draw @ 14/5 with SkyBet, BetVictor or Coral.
- Both of last season’s fixtures between the sides saw four or more goals, as have two of Liverpool’s five matches this season and four of Everton’s. Back over 3.5 goals @ best odds of 8/5 with BetVictor.