The 228th Merseyside derby will kick-off at lunchtime tomorrow, with Everton just six points behind Liverpool, and less than ten games to play. Many believe this is will be the closest game between the two sides in a long time, and the small gap in points between the rivals means additional significance to the already enticing occasion.
There will be a mosaic held up on the Kop prior to the game, in remembrance of Ronnie Moran, the Liverpool legend to passed away last week. A minute’s applause will also take place before kick-off to remember a man who had a huge impact, not just on Liverpool Football Club, but the city as a whole.
Liverpool won the reverse fixture in December, with an injury-time winner from Sadio Mane after Daniel Sturridge had hit the post from distance, and a similar result here would keep them right in the mix for the top four, and would put Everton out of the race for sure.
Should the Reds secure victory, they would go level on points with Tottenham in second place, but will have played two more matches.
Both sides have numerous injury worries going into the game. Seamus Coleman, of course, is out having broken his leg playing for his country against Wales, whilst Morgan Schneiderlin is also unlikely to feature having failed to recover from a knock. James McCarthy, Yannick Bolasie and Mo Besic all remain out, whilst Ramiro Funes Mori also got injured playing for Argentina and will miss the game.
For Liverpool, captain Jordan Henderson has lost his fitness race (in fact, it seems he has further complications that will see him miss the next couple of matches too), whilst Adam Lallana is out for at least a month having been injured during his time away with England.
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were flown back from Brazil having both played midweek, but should be fine to start. Daniel Sturridge is back in training but is not deemed fit enough even for the bench.
Jurgen Klopp will experience only his third derby, having won both of the previous two, but he is well aware of how important they are.
“The world stops for 90 minutes in a city. Football is not the most important thing, but in a few moments we love to think it is.
“Everton is a good team. They had a really good run [and are] obviously confident, but we are Liverpool. We play at Anfield and nobody should underestimate the power of Anfield.
“These are the games you look forward to,” he said, later adding, “They look really confident, but I cannot imagine one reason why we shouldn’t be confident too”.
On Adam Lallana’s injury, Klopp said, “Obviously I was not happy. Somebody said I was relaxed about this – I could not be less relaxed about this, but it is not about blaming (Gareth) Southgate”.
Lallana will miss at least six games, and is aiming to return in time to play former club Southampton at the start of May. His quality will be sorely missed at a crucial stage of the season.
This game will be tight, and for the first twenty minutes it is likely to be a battle, especially because of the amount of injuries to key players for both sides means the line-ups will be massively disrupted. No one is quite sure how either side will line up.
Form goes out of the window for a derby game, and the only guarantee is a feisty and well-fought game. The score-line is anyone’s guess, and that is what makes it so exciting.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 12:30 GMT and is live on Sky Sports 1.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Anthony Taylor – one thing that is guaranteed in any derby game is a number of cards, but that will certainly not be helped by this referee. He is never shy of producing yellow cards, and has given 147 in his 38 matches this season so far in all competitions.
Taylor has been in charge of four Liverpool games so far this season, most recently in the 2-0 win over Tottenham. He was also the official for the 0-0 draw with Manchester United and both games against Sunderland (a 2-0 win at Anfield and a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light).
He saw Everton beat West Ham 2-0 at home and Crystal Palace 1-0 away from home, as well as the 3-2 loss to Watford at Vicarage Road.
The last time Everton beat Liverpool at Anfield, 17-year-old Ben Woodburn, who may well feature for the hosts tomorrow, was not even born.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Can, Coutinho, Wijnaldum; Origi, Firmino, Mane
Everton: Robles; Holgate, Williams, Jagielka, Baines; Geuye, Barry; Davies, Barkley, Mirallas; Lukaku
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