The first Merseyside Derby of the season takes place this weekend, with Everton and Liverpool set to renew hostilities at Goodison Park (8pm Monday on Sky Sports 1).
Liverpool have stuttered a little in recent weeks, losing 4-3 to Bournemouth and drawing 2-2 with West Ham United prior to Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough. It was a much-needed and highly impressive triumph at the Riverside Stadium in midweek, with Liverpool keeping their fourth clean sheet of the league campaign and once again demonstrating their array of attacking quality in the final third of the pitch.
The result leaves the Reds as third favourites in the bookies’ Premier League betting and six points adrift of leaders Chelsea at the summit of the Premier League standings. That is a margin that is larger than Jurgen Klopp would have liked but one that also remains surmountable given that we have not yet even reached the halfway stage of the season.
Everton ended a run of five previous Premier League matches without a win by beating Arsenal 2-1 on Tuesday evening. It was an important triumph for Ronald Koeman and his players, with the Toffees turning the game around following a flat and lethargic start in the first 25 minutes. Everton were excellent after the first quarter of the match, playing with an intensity, urgency and energy that has been lacking on numerous occasions in recent weeks.
It is vital that they continue in a similar vein on Monday, when the backing of a raucous home crowd at Goodison Park could well be a key factor once again. Everton’s aim for this season is a top-seven finish as the division’s big six sides are probably out of reach at this early stage of Koeman’s tenur. They now need to show that the come-from-behind success against Arsene Wenger’s charges earlier this week was not a one-off occurrence.
Klopp will be unable to call upon Philippe Coutinho (ankle), Daniel Sturridge (calf), Danny Ings (knee), Marko Grujic (tendon), Joel Matip (ankle) and Emre Can (knee). Divock Origi should shake off a knock in time to feature. Simon Mignolet replaced Loris Karius between the sticks against Middlesbrough and will probably keep his place for the trip across town, while Estonian centre-back Ragnar Klavan will be handed his fifth start of the campaign in the absence of the stricken Matip.
Koeman is without Yannick Bolasie (knee), Phil Jagielka (suspended) Mo Besic (knee) and Matthew Pennington (hamstring) for the visit of Liverpool. Although Gareth Barry is available for selection after a one-game ban, the former Southampton boss may be tempted to stick with the side that defeated Arsenal as close as possible (although the banned Jagielka will be replaced by Ramiro Funes Mori). That could see James McCarthy, Idrissa Gueye and Ross Barkley line up in the centre of the park once again, with Enner Valencia and Aaron Lennon supporting lone striker Romelu Lukaku (pictured) from the flanks.
Our Preview’s Merseyside Derby, Everton v Liverpool, Betting Tips Verdict
A Merseyside Derby is an emotional affair where form may not decide the outcome, but this preview is still siding with Liverpool to come out on top. The Reds’ results may have dipped a little in the last few weeks, but they remain a terrific attacking force capable of causing problems for any defensive unit in the country. Tightening up defensively over a longer period is clearly next on the agenda for Klopp, but his team’s firepower is such that they will probably have enough quality to pick up all three points at Goodison Park even if their backline is breached.
With that in mind, then, a Liverpool victory with over 2.5 goals to be scored in total looks like a good option, while Firmino should find the back of the net at some point in the match.