Everton v Liverpool, Premier League, November 29, 2009
According to the old maxim, form goes out the window on derby day. Everton and Liverpool will be hoping the tired cliche rings true on Sunday.
The blue half of Merseyside are currently experiencing a major funk, the Toffees have now won just one of their last eleven games, and despite fighting back in the second half at the KC Stadium on Wednesday night, they nevertheless crashed to a 3-2 defeat against Phil Brownâ€™s lowly Hull. That lead to a frightening honest appraisal of Everton’s future this season from their manager David Moyes, with the Scot admitting “we could be dragged into a relegation fight, particularly because of the injuries we have and individual performances. I donâ€™t know if we are too strong to go down.”
That’s hardly the type of soundbites Evertonians would have wanted to heard before facing their Liverpool rivals.
James Vaughan, Leon Osman, Phil Neville, Victor Anichebe, Phil Jageilka and Mikel Arteta all still remain on the sidelines for Everton. However, Moyes’ team will be buoyed by the return from suspension of Marouane Fellaini (10/3 to score) and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (7/2 to score) who will both likely be drafted straight back into the starting line-up against the Reds.
Jack Rodwell (7/1 to score), after being hyped-up greatly in recent weeks with links of a mega-money transfer to one of the top clubs, have gone off the boil in the centre of the part for Everton, and after being subbed midway through the second half at Hull the upstart could be forced to watch Sunday’s match from the bench.
That could leave Jonny Heitinga as the holding midfielder against Liverpool, Tim Cahill (12/1 to score first & Everton win) will likely be used as a more central figure in midfield, while Steven Pienaar (16/1 to score first), who made his first appearance since injuring his knee at Portsmouth two months earlier against the Tigers, could be called on from the start to play down the right hand side.
Louis Saha (10/1 to score a brace), eight goals in twelve matches this season, is likely to be Everton’s lone striker, while Moyes will have the Yakubu, Jo and Dan Gosling all available to come off the bench if needs be.
The outlook for Liverpool is equally bleak at present. Thirteen points off the top of the Premier League and with their Champions League dreams in tatters, the Reds are desperate for a morale-boosting win to lift then out of the doldrums and to start clawing our way back into the top four.
Without the irreverent Fernando Torres (7/1 to score a brace) Liverpool naturally struggle big-time, and it remains touch-and-go to see if the Spaniard will prove his fitness in time for the derby. Should El Nino not recover in time young Frenchman David Ngog (3/1 to score & Liverpool win) will be picked from the off again, with the striker having proved a limited success this season scoring five goals already. That said, the Anfield giants have a clear shortage of natural finishers on their books and, once again, all eyes will be homed in on captain Steven Gerrard (19/2 to score first & Liverpool win) to raise his troops against the old enemy.
Liverpool fans will also be hoping the Alberto Aquilani (6/1 to score) will get to add to his 22 minutes of playing time since joining from Fiorentina last summer, although a start for the Italian is doubtful. That should see Dirk Kuyt (15/2 to score first), who has been off the pace in recent weeks, retain his position down the right, while Yossi Benayoun should also get the nod despite carrying an injury in recent weeks.
101predicts: Everton 1 – Liverpool 3 (14/1)
Full match odds here.