Everton perspective from Brian Lewis at Royal Blue Mersey.
Midfielders Marouanne Fellaini and Darron Gibson are in a race to be fit ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside Derby. Fellaini is likely to return after a three week lay-off while Gibson is admittedly unlikely to feature for the Toffees. Fellaini’s presence was missed at QPR last weekend, and his return will give Liverpool fits. Stephen Pienaar will also miss the derby after picking up an undeserved second yellow against QPR. Supposedly Tony Hibbert will be fit to reclaim his spot at starting right back as well.
Everton’s form has admittedly dipped since the first 4 games of the season, but we still sit in 4th place a little over 1/5th of the way through the season. Last weekend’s match against QPR showed what can happen to Everton when they're not at the races and QPR could have easily grabbed all 3 points. Form for Everton always seems to hinge on injuries, and right now things aren’t great in that department.
Last year was nothing but ugly for Everton when lining up against Liverpool. We lost all 3 matches including a depressing 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup semi final. Liverpool has always seemed to have Everton’s number under Moyes, but it has been a long time since Everton have played such attacking football, so I am optimistic here.
I like Everton to do well in both halves and it is worth a punt on having them score in both haves for 3.70. I’d also take Jelavic to score anytime at 2.80, and finally our exciting Belgian Kevin Mirallas to get a goal at 3.75.
As always this is going to be a close and keenly contested derby match. I think Everton will come out strong after last year’s tepid performances and we'll get a 2-1 victory at odds of 10.50.
Predicted Lineup: (4-4-1-1)
Pepe Reina might return to the starting lineup after returning to full training on Friday. Fabio Borini and Lucas Leiva are the only two long term injuries. I believe that Brendan Rodgers will not give Stewart Downing a starting berth even after his excellent goal midweek. In my opinion the gaffer will put his faith in Oussama Assaidi again, while Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, and Jonjo Shelvey will also get the nod as the youngsters are becoming regular starters.
After a very slow start, things seem to be turning around and Liverpool go into this game having kept two clean sheets at home. A victory against Reading in the Barclays Premier League, thanks to a goal from Raheem Sterling, saw the Reds clinch the first win this season in the Premier League. Then on Thursday, Stewart Downing's wonder goal saw Liverpool earn another three precious points in the Europa League. The Reds defeated the Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala and are now in the top spot in their Europa League group. Unfortunately in Premier League Liverpool are still in the bottom half of the table, however a victory against Everton would see The Reds move into the top half of the table and could serve as a catalyst for upturn in fortunes for the rest of the season.
This is the 219th Merseyside derby, Liverpool have won 87 times, Everton won 66 times while the game has ended in a draw 65 times. In the last eleven Premier League meetings, Everton have won just once. Last season Liverpool played Everton three times with Liverpool winning all three. At Goodison, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll each scored in a 2-0 victory. At Anfield It was a Steven Gerrard's hat-trick that saw the Reds winning 3-0. The other encounter was an FA Cup semi-final which saw Nikica Jelavić score first for the Toffees however Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll both scored to see the Reds through the FA Cup Final with a 2-1 win.
Best Bets: Under 1.5 goals at 3.60; Luis Surez 1st goal at 6.50; draw at half time/Liverpool at full time at 6.75.
Predicted Scoreline : Everton 0 - 1 Liverpool at 10.00.
Predicted Lineup: (4-2-3-1)