The best of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures has been reserved for Monday night, as Liverpool make the short trip across Merseyside to face arch enemies Everton. Billed as one of the biggest derbies in world football, this high-octane match rarely disappoints, and it’s going to be a 90 minute treat as we count down to Christmas.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have done little wrong this season, but defeat at Bournemouth and draws with West Ham and Southampton in the last six have seen them fall nine points behind leaders Chelsea. The Blues eleven-game winning run leaves no margin for error for the chasing pack, but this is a tough task for the Reds as they try to keep pace at the top of the table.
Everton’s early season promise under Ronald Koeman fell away with a run of just one win in eleven, but they came back to form just in time for this game with the 2-1 win over Arsenal last week. That will have given the team a huge confidence boost ahead of this match, and the Toffees remain unbeaten at home in this year’s Premier League.
There’s generally very little to choose between these two sides – six of the last eight meetings have ended in a draw, with Liverpool winning the other two, both at Anfield. You have to go back as far as 2010 for the last Everton win, when Cahill and Arteta were on target in a 2-0 victory at Goodison.
Each of the last four on Everton turf have ended all square – a statistically pleasing 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3. Last year’s 1-1 draw in October 2015 saw Lukaku and Ings get on the scoresheet, although Liverpool won the return fixture at Anfield in April this year 4-0.
Phil Jagielka’s late red card against Arsenal rules him out of this one, which is a big blow for Koeman and Everton, but Gareth Barry could come back in after being rested for the win over the Gunners.
Joel Matip is a doubt for the Reds due to an ankle injury which kept him out of the 3-0 win at Middlesbrough, but Emre Can is fit again. Daniel Sturridge could also feature for Jurgen Klopp after recovering from a calf injury, and he was on target twice in last year’s 4-0 win.
Another two big attacking players out for the long term are Liverpool’s Coutinho and Everton’s Bolasie.
Everton had been in lacklustre form up until last week’s win, their only win in eleven games coming over a woeful West Ham. The Toffees were dumped out of the EFL Cup by Norwich, and have suffered defeats away at the likes of Bournemouth, Burnley and Watford. Home draws with Palace, Swansea and Manchester United have also put a dent in European aspirations, although the latter arguably classes as a decent result. However, there was lots to like about their performance levels against Arsenal in last week’s 2-1 win, and they will need no firing up for this fixture.
Liverpool have been having an excellent season under Jurgen Klopp, winning 10 and drawing 4 of their 16 league games. Surprisingly their only two defeats have come at Burnley and Bournemouth, but unfortunately for Reds fans, those are the type of results that can prove very costly in an ultra-competitive division. Away from home they’ve been very good too, with five wins in the last seven. However, the draw at Southampton and the defeat at Bournemouth show that they can be vulnerable on the road, and this ranks up there with the toughest of away fixtures for Liverpool.
On both value and statistical grounds, the draw is by far the best option to take – and for neutrals it provides the opportunity to sit back and enjoy what should be a thrilling match.
Everton and Liverpool to Draw
Monday 19th December, 20:00 GMT