Just over a year ago, Liverpool were celebrating a result over Everton that was among their most impressive in recent memory. With both sides fighting for Champions League places, it was, at least in terms of the league table, one of the more important derbies in years, and Brendan Rodgers' side came out overwhelming winners on the back of a devastating first-half display that included a Steven Gerrard opener and Daniel Sturridge brace.
Fast forward to this season and neither side have managed to replicate last season's relative successes, with Everton the worse off of the two, with just over a point per game to this point in the season and only two wins in all competitions since the start of December. One of those came last weekend at Crystal Palace, when Romelu Lukaku's goal in the second minute held up for a narrow 1-0 win.
A difficult second season for Roberto Martinez has been compounded by injuries and poor form from his "bigger" players, and tomorrow he'll be without Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman, and Tim Howard. James McCarthy should come back into the squad, though, and loan signing Aaron Lennon will be available for his first appearance since joining. At Palace, Joel Robles started in goal in the absence of Howard, with Seamus Coleman, John Stone, Phil Jagielka, and Leighton Baines across the back, Muhamed Besic and Gareth Barry in central midfield, and Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas, and Aiden McGeady in support of Lukaku. McCarthy will likely feature at some point, as will Ross Barkley.
Can Skrtel Sakho
Markovic Henderson Lucas Moreno
More questions than answers in the build-up regarding Liverpool's fitness, with uncertainty as to the availability of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, and Lucas. The only confirmed absences through injury will be Jon Flanagan and Brad Jones, with Kolo Toure still at the African Cup of Nations, but changes are likely just three days after the win at Bolton and only three more before Spurs visit Anfield. Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren were left out of the squad midweek but are reportedly healthy.
At the back there shouldn't be any turnover, however, with Simon Mignolet continuing in goal and each of Emre Can, Martin Skrtel, and Mamadou Sakho fit and on form. If any are in need of rest it looks as though Glen Johnson is the first one in, with Lovren continually left out and Toure still on international duty.
Jordan Henderson and Lucas are expected to return in central midfield, with Steven Gerrard pushing further forward to partner Philippe Coutinho behind Raheem Sterling up top. The pairing of Gerrard and Joe Allen deeper left a gaping hole in the midfield on Wednesday, and the partnership between Henderson and Lucas should be restored as long as the Brazilian is healthy. If he's not, Allen will likely join Henderson.
Gerrard has looked his best in recent weeks in a more advanced role, and each of Sterling and Coutinho are undroppable at this point. It still seems too soon for a start for Daniel Sturridge, but he should again make an appearance off the bench for at least 20 minutes. One of Balotelli, Fabio Borini, or Rickie Lambert could have a part to play as well, but Lallana will hopefully be able to come off the bench first.
Kickoff is set for 5:30PM GMT/12:30PM EST on Saturday, with Sky Sports 1 airing the match live in the UK and NBC/NBC Sports Live Extra providing coverage in the US. Our coverage will continue with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into live coverage tomorrow, with team sheets an hour before kickoff, full viewing options, and post-match reaction. If you haven’t already, sign up for an SBNation account and join us for it.