Everton have not enjoyed a fruitful season. The Toffees sit in ninth place in the Premier League on 36 points, nearly half of Liverpool’s tally. Manager Marco Silva’s side has lost more games than they have won this season but will be hoping the old “form goes out the window” derby adage works to their advantage against their city rivals on Sunday.
Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has first hand experience of the emotional power of derby day and has predicted that Everton, either despite their lackluster season or because of it, will be ready to give Liverpool more competition at Goodison than most people in the civilized world are expecting.
“This weekend’s Merseyside derby is the one game that Everton have got left to play for,” said Aldridge in the ECHO. “It’s their game of the season.
“They are in a bit of midtable obscurity right now and the one game the Blues fans demand they do something in will be Sunday’s derby because they have had nothing to smile about all season.
“So, let’s face it, it’s going to be a really tough game, it will get scrappy and it will become a fight at times and Liverpool are going to have to stand up to it.”
The Merseyside derby can indeed be an intense and scrappy affair but there have also been some relatively tame meetings between the two clubs over recent years. Jürgen Klopp will want his team to focus on football and not to get caught up in emotional battles which lead to cautions or sendings off that muddy the game plan.
The Goodison crowd will be 100% behind their team from the start and the Everton XI will believe that they can both stop and attack Liverpool successfully. But if Liverpool impose themselves early on with another dominant display like we saw against Watford, and get an early goal, the mood in the stadium is likely to shift downwards quickly.
A dejected Blues team, in the middle of an uninspired season, will have little to offer their fans if they cede control of the game to Liverpool. Aldridge may be right about a scrappy match but Liverpool can steal Everton’s gusto for a fight if they can silence the crowd.