Liverpool and Everton meet at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime, and whilst for many this fixture will be one of the highlights of the Premier League season, for others it is just a repeat of what has gone on before.
Because no fixture in England attracts the cliché as much as this one does. It is drawn to them, it embraces them and it is happy to try and live up to them.
It will be game of two halves, no holds will be barred and no quarter given, as the Reds and the Blues line up to tackle a fixture which will once again see the following mentioned:
‘This is the XXXth Merseyside Derby’
This is the furthest that anyone has ever got into an article about the derby without mentioning what number it is. Like the Boat Race and the Grand National, we simply crave to know how many times Liverpool have faced Everton before each and every time they lock horns.
This is the 223rd, by the way.
‘You Won’t Need The Ball For The First 10 Minutes’
This one is a little less common these days, but is used to suggest that, so fierce will the challenges be in the opening moments of any Merseyside derby, the actual football need not be on the pitch.
Both teams appeared to take this advice to heart in the opening eight minutes of last season’s Goodison derby, with Everton forgetting about the ball long enough for Philippe Coutinho to give Liverpool the lead five minutes in, and then the Reds replying in kind to allow Kevin Mirallas to equalise three minutes later.
‘You’ve Got To Make Your Mark Early’
An early, lunging challenge on your opponent will both simultaneously ‘let him know you’re there’ and allow you to ‘set your stall out.’
Steven Gerrard did that a little too enthusiastically in a 2006 derby at Anfield when he flew into two early challenges, picked up two yellow cards and was sent off just 18 minutes into the game, thereby certainly ‘making his mark’ on it.
‘This Used To Be Called The Friendly Derby’
In the 1970s and 80s when Liverpool and Everton could at times legitimately claim to be the best two sides in the country, the notion of ‘The Friendly Derby’ still existed despite the club’s players frequently flying into one another at a rate of knots.
At the first sign of a flare-up at Anfield on Saturday – such as this infamous one between Sander Westerveld and Francis Jeffers in 1999 – expect that old line to be trotted out again.
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‘They’ll Be Determined To Earn The Bragging Rights’
Bragging rights to be issued at around 2.30pm local time on Saturday, when the joyous winners can come and collect them from the devastated losers.
‘Separated By The Width Of Stanley Park’
Given that they play football in the same city but not exactly in the same place something has to separate Liverpool and Everton, and that something is Stanley Park.
You can expect some aerial shots of the stretch of grass either in the build-up to the game or during it, as we get a look at just how close Goodison Park is to Anfield. About a park’s width away, in fact.
‘The Local Lads Will Have To Teach The New Boys What It’s All About’
With no Jamie Carragher around any more and the likes of Ross Barkley and Jon Flanagan injured, Steven Gerrard and Leighton Baines are likely to be flying the Scouse flag solo at the weekend, as the pair try to impart the importance of the fixture upon their teammates.
However, Everton’s biggest summer signing Romelu Lukaku played and scored in a derby last season whilst on loan, Liverpool's lifelong fan Rickie Lambert would probably list Merseyside derbies as a specialist subject on Mastermind, whilst Reds midfielder Adam Lallana grew up as an Everton fan.
They’ll know exactly what to expect.
‘The Form Book Goes Out Of The Window’
Expect households across Merseyside to defenestrate form books come kick-off time at Anfield, when of course it won’t matter just what happened in recent Liverpool and Everton matches, as all that’s important is the here and now.
Given that neither Liverpool nor Everton are in the greatest of form at the moment, that doesn’t really tell us too much though does it? Other than to look out for flying form books, obviously.
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