In theory, Everton will be happier than Liverpool at having the Merseyside derby next up in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Saturday. They are on a great run of form with maximum points under Carlo Ancelotti, while Liverpool were drubbed 7-2 at Aston Villa in their last game and have not had time to work on mistakes, with players scattered around the world on international duty.
For the first time for many years, the blue half of the city will understandably go into the game expecting to win but in football you are best to be careful, particularly given a team as good as this Liverpool.
We all know Jurgen Klopp’s men have great resilience and character besides their obvious quality. They have jumped over nearly every hurdle in the past couple of seasons and bounced back from losing European finals, let alone one league game at Villa Park.
Liverpool are reeling after their humiliating 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa in their last match
Meanwhile, their bitter rivals Everton, led by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, are leading the league
Everton will not have the advantage of a full house roaring them on and Liverpool may even benefit from Ancelotti’s side being so confident they will get on the front foot. If I was in the blue dressing-room, I would say beware the wounded animal, particularly as Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara should be all right to return.
We cannot gloss over the defeat at Villa of course. Joe Gomez, in particular, has struggled in the heart of the defence this season. He does not look as confident, or even fit, compared to his prime and the manager faces a big decision whether to take him out of the firing line.
It is always a tricky call. Some players benefit from having a breather, gather their thoughts and come back stronger. I always liked to have that final chance if I was out of form and invariably put in a better performance. For me, rising to the challenge helped, whereas being dropped might have knocked my confidence.
Everton will lose the advantage of their loyal support creating the atmosphere for derby day
I do not know Gomez’s character but from the outside, I would say it would be better for Liverpool if Fabinho partnered Virgil van Dijk for the derby, particularly as Klopp should have other strong options in midfield. The middle of a back four is such a crucial part of the pitch and particularly so for Liverpool on this occasion, because Everton’s main strength is their front three, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring every time he plays.
You can chart Everton’s progress by thinking about who you would pick in a joint Liverpool-Everton XI. A couple of years ago, I picked 10 Reds and Andre Gomes, but more of Ancelotti’s players would be in