Merseyside Derby – Battle For The European Spot

Liverpool take on Everton in the Merseyside derby at the Goodison Park. Though it may not be the most widely anticipated derby match, this fixture is never short of action or drama. Liverpool head into the match in a confident mood, having kept three consecutive clean sheets and winning their last two fixtures, against Reading in the Premier league and Anzhi Makachkala in The Europa League. Everton will not shy away from the challenge either, having made an impressive start to the season that sees them placed fourth prior to the weekend.

 

TEAM WATCH:

Liverpool are yet to find their feet and manager Brendan Rodgers has been tinkering with the midfield to find the right combination. Raheem Sterling has been a savior for the Reds and is sure to start the match along with skipper Steven Gerrard. Downing has been impressive over the past week, scoring a magnificent goal to give Liverpool a win against Anzhi Makachkala, and maybe included to provide some width to the Liverpool play. Sahin looks set to occupy the central position alongside Allen or Shelvey. Having said that, Liverpool started Sterling, Suso and Wisdom, of 17,18 and 19 years of age respectively to record their first home win and their performances may force Rodgers to spring a surprise in the team selection.

Sterling – The man to watch out for

There are no fresh injury concerns for Liverpool other than long term absentees Fabio Borini, Martin Kelly and Lucas Leiva and will be hoping for first choice goalkeeper Jose Reina’s return.   

Everton head into the fixture without Steven Piennar, who is suspended after picking up a second yellow card for a challenge on QPR defender Jose Bosingwa.  Marouane Fellaini could return for the fixture after missing the last weekend’s match against QPR due to a knee injury. Thomas Hitzlsperger, who is on a training spell with Everton may well be asked to play to provide some experience due to injuries. Tony Hibbert and Darron Gibson are also likely to feature, after missing premierleague action due to injuries.

 

TACTICS WATCH:

Liverpool’s formation has evolved from 4-5-1 to a more incisive 4-3-3 over the past few weeks. Liverpool has got two attacking fullbacks in Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique, and have been very good in switching play and making overlapping runs. Liverpool has also got the upper hand in set pieces, boasting Steven Gerrard, Suarez and Downing in their ranks, and also the central defence pairing of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger who can very dangerous from corner kicks.

It will be interesting to watch Everton’s tactics to contain Sterling and Suarez; if they play Fellaini in a deeper position to contain the opposition, the supply may dry up for Nikica Jelavic, who is Everton’s leading goalscorer with four goals. David Moyes may be forced to switch veteran Phil Neville to the flank due to Piennar’s suspension, risking him against the pacey Sterling though it is more likely that Victor Anichebe will be sacrificed for an extra player in the midfield. The Everton team is considerably weaker due to injuries and suspensions and will pose a tough choice to the manager between experience and pace, if he has to bring in fringe players.

The match will be decided in the midfield and possession will be the key to gain momentum. Moyes will send out a team with an attacking mentality as there is no reason to suggest any difference of quality between the two sides and will want to take all three points in a home fixture against their local rivals.

 BUILD UP:

Everton manager David Moyes has spoken out about bad refereeing decisions and Luis Suarez’s tendency to exaggerate tackles, which resulted in the sending off of then Everton player Jack Rodwell in last year’s fixture at Goodison Park.  “We could have had a couple of goals against Newcastle, the first goal at Wigan was offside and then the decision last weekend. And you go back to last year’s derby where it was a terrible decision to send Jack Rodwell off,” he says.  This will be Brendan Rodgers’ first Merseyside derby and he hopes that the referee keeps the temperament of the game in check as there is a history of red cards during this fixture.

 Ref : Andre Marriner

Kick off : 14:30 CET

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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