LIVERPOOL VS. EVERTON
| Saturday, February 20th |
Premier League | Anfield
5:30PM GMT/12:30PM EST
Though the “bite” of derby matches has been somewhat lacking in empty grounds, the character of this rendition of the Merseyside Derby is up in the air given what happened in the reverse fixture earlier this season. It’s hard to know quite what to expect, quality-wise, from these two sides, though both are certainly capable of putting on a good show.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton’s leading scorer (13 Premier League goals, 18 all competitions from an xG of 16.59), is likely to return to the starting lineup at Anfield.
Calvert-Lewin is good at finding good areas in the opposition box, and all but one of his goals this season have come from that dangerous central area of the penalty box — and 12 of his 18 have come from the within six-yard-box (including shots from on the line, because as we know from that Fabinho challenge that became a penalty, on the line is within the marked area). Calvert-Lewin is a good finisher, but strong defensive control on which areas he is able to receive service in will be key.
In terms of this service into the forwards, it is notable that Allan, too, might return from his spell on the sidelines. Allan often acts as provider to key man in the attacking midfield, James Rodriguez. Liverpool targeted this pass connection in the last match against the Toffees, successfully limiting its effectiveness; they might look to do this again should the Brazilian feature.
Jordan Pickford, who will be pleased that there are no fans in the ground after the incident(s) of the reverse fixture, returned to the starting lineup midweek in Everton’s loss to Manchester City. Pickford has conceded 28 this season, not massively underperforming his xG conceded (26.31), though the goalkeeper was lightly criticized for one if not two of the goals he conceded midweek against Manchester City, and Ancelotti was forced to back his number one in the press conference today.
The Toffees will be without Yerry Mina, and are thus a bit light in the center-back department — a weakness that will come as a boon for a Liverpool side who are a bit light in various places themselves.
It should be a physical battle, regardless of the occasion: Everton have the fifth-most yellow cards this season (41, with two red cards; Liverpool are 18th with 27 and 0 red cards). The narrative around this match mean it will likely be less than friendly, though both managers will hope players keep their cool. Fans of both teams will hope their players escape without injury.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Kabak, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mané
In his pre-Everton press conference, Jürgen Klopp gave us the (maybe?) good news that Naby Keïta trained on Thursday with the team “so we have to see what we make of it,” but the boss had no new information about any of the other players returning from injury — so Diogo Jota, Fabinho, James Milner “get closer, but not close enough for the weekend.”
Keïta could have been in the squad against Leipzig, apparently, but the coaching team decided to leave him behind to train. Of course, the player then got “a bit ill” so could not train as planned. He’s no longer injured, but his fitness is in question, and he may or may not get minutes against the Toffees.
Alisson is fine per Klopp, however, so his absence from training pictures — and the ensuing social media nightmare — is likely much ado about nothing.
Liverpool will miss the fans in Anfield for a game like this, as the home advantage seems minimal when the Reds face a team coming to the ground from so close nearby. We must hope that someone gets a “1995” bedsheet in the ground at the very least.
Nonetheless, the form (if not always the results) has returned for Liverpool lately, and Klopp will hope to avoid individual errors that marred good performances in recent games. The manager will have been happy to see all three of his front three involved in front of goal against Leipzig midweek, even if Roberto Firmino’s cheeky assist for a Sadio Mané goal was ruled out for a very close linesman call in the end.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “They have had good teams over the years, in these specific games most of the time they’ve been close [games] — but a manager like Carlo [Ancelotti] helps any team in the world ... maybe they are closer than ever before, from the position of the table for sure.”
Carlo Ancelotti: “The motivation is very high because we want to compete against our neighbors here, it is a derby, and it is a special game.”
Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Dan Cook, Sian Massey-Ellis Fourth official: Paul Tierney VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Derek Eaton
Kickoff is set for 5:30PM GMT/12:30AM 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.
Statistics used in article are from InStat.