238th Merseyside Derby: Everton Pregame Notes

Merseyside derby day is one of the two days on the Premier League calendar that Liverpool and Everton fans circle when the schedule is released. Some will look towards days like today with dread, and others will feel excitement. Either way, there is no downplaying the importance of these sorts of matches to Liverpool’s two topflight clubs. 


As with any meeting between the two sides, this one should be a tense, emotion-packed affair. Both clubs have a lot to play for after the topsy-turvy reverse fixture at Goodison Park in October. The game finished 2-2 and notably featured a red card and a late winner that was ruled out by VAR. 


It is well documented that Everton have not managed to beat Liverpool since 2010. In games played at Anfield, you would have to go back until 1999 to find a Blue triumph. 


As a result, the Toffees will be especially keen to try to capitalize upon a slight dip in Liverpool’s form. Both teams enter the game having gone winless in their previous three EPL fixtures. Liverpool have suffered three defeats in the stretch, while Everton managed a draw against Manchester United to go with two losses.


Yesterday, Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti held his customary prematch press conference. Here’s a look at what he had to say, and what his comments might mean for today’s derby.



Injury News


Ancelotti began the press conference by stating that Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Yerry Mina will both be out of action this weekend. Although Mina’s towering presence will be missed, there is a positive side to this update.


Both Allan and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are healthy, and should be available for the derby. Each of these guys have been vital to the Toffees’ success this season, so this is a big deal. 


Calvert-Lewin has led the way for Everton this season with 18 goals in all competitions. Although Tom Davies has done a nice job filling in for Allan during his absence, the Brazilian is still the first midfielder on the team sheet when healthy.


Ancelotti also added that while James Rodriguez is not 100% after picking up a calf injury, he is at 99%. As a result, all of Everton’s big guns should be ready for this one.


Other Comments


With regards to Liverpool’s form, Ancelotti noted that every team in the league, apart from Man City, has had ups and downs this season. Obviously they are still a very good team, which Ancelotti was sure to point out.


Ancelotti said that criticism is part of the job for goalkeepers like Alisson and Jordan Pickford. The Everton boss pointed out that everyone in the sport makes mistakes, but that does not overshadow the quality that the players in question have. 


When asked whether or not Everton’s past struggles against Liverpool adds pressure, Ancelotti said he does not think so. As he pointed out, the worst thing that can happen in the derby has already happened plenty of times in recent years. He also said that Everton have more of an opportunity to get a result now thanks to improvement in recent years. 


Another interesting point that Ancelotti made was the impact of the absence of supporters on this season. Every game feels different without supporters in the stands, but this is even more so the case during a derby that would usually produce a heated atmosphere. The impact of the lack of supporters has certainly made a mark on Everton’s season thus far. The Toffees have only managed four victories at home in comparison to seven wins on the road to this point. 


Final Thoughts


The first meeting of the season between these two teams was important, but this one might be even more so. Both teams would benefit massively from a victory. As a result, this should be a hotly contested, back and forth affair.


Everton have played Liverpool very competitively at Goodison over the past few seasons, but the same cannot be said about meetings at Anfield. The Reds have won six of the past seven meetings between the two sides in which they have been the home team. With no fans in the stands, this may well prove to be a golden opportunity for the Toffees to put a stop to that trend.


Although these derbies are always thrilling, in some ways the final whistle is the best part because of the finality and respite it offers. Until then, absolutely anything can happen.


This is always both an exhilarating and terrifying proposition.


Up the Toffees!


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