| Sunday, June 21st |
Premier League | Goodison Park
7PM BST/2PM EST
As I sit down to write this preview, I honestly still can’t believe it’s happening. We’re finally here. After a postponement of more than 100 days, the Premier League has returned and Liverpool play their first game back on Sunday evening.
Quite the lucky coincidence that the match Reds fans return to will be a Merseyside derby. The derby is a spirited event every season, but the various extenuating circumstances make this weekend’s match up a bit of a wildcard.
The first question will be if the players on both teams have managed to shake off the rust of going so long without a competitive match. Then there’s the fact that the game will be played behind closed doors. The heaving, delirious crowd egging on the players is an indelible part of what makes these match ups so heated. Without that, it won’t be surprising to see a more subdued affair than we’re used to.
And finally, of course, is the fact that Liverpool have waited so long — four months or 30 years, however you choose to look at it — to lift the Premier League trophy. A win in this game will put them a single victory away from finally achieving their goal.
As for what to expect on Sunday? Who could possibly say? We’re in uncharted territory here. Form guides are useless. The usual late season fatigue is a non-issue.
Here’s what we do know: Xherdan Shaqiri is out of the running with yet another injury. More concerning is that Mohamed Salah appears to be a doubt, having not played in the team’s final warm-up game and missed some training sessions. This could be a precaution, or else we might see an unexpected tweak to Jürgen Klopp’s usual line-up.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Remaining positive about seeing Salah on the pitch, but the front in where things might get tricky. Divock Origi, Naby Keïta, or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may sneak in if Salah isn’t available. Meanwhile, the rest of the team looks settled. Since Joe Gomez is fit, he’s likely to partner with Virgil van Dijk in the back. Our full-backs remain the same, barring an unforeseen event.
As for Everton, they still have a few players out with long term injuries. Yerry Mina, Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph all remain out of the team.
Carlo Ancelotti has a big job on his hands, but hopefully Liverpool have what it takes to pick up another victory against their rivals and those crucial three points.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “We have to find challenges, win challenges, use gaps, find gaps and all that stuff. We have to play through, we have to be 100 per cent disciplined, we have to be full of joy, we have to stay greedy before the game, in the game [and] after the game. That’s all what we need.”
Carlo Ancelotti: “This is an advantage for Liverpool, to play at Goodison Park without our supporters – and that is the same for any team going to play away. We are working to try to overcome this problem and to play a fantastic game.”
Referee: Mike Dean. Assistants: Simon Bennett, Darren Cann. Fourth official: Anthony Taylor. VAR: Chris Kavanagh. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child. Replacement official: James Mainwaring.
Kickoff is set for 7PM BST/2PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.