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Liverpool: 7th place; 4 points out of 2 games
Everton: 4th place; 7 points out of 3 games
Last 4 meetings:
3-1 Liverpool (h) March 25 2006
3-1 Liverpool (a) December 28 2005
2-1 Liverpool (h) March 20 2005
0-1 Everton (a) December 11 2004
Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 2-1 West Ham (h); 1-1 Maccabi Haifa (a); 1-1 Sheffield United (a)
Everton: 2-0 Tottenham (a); 1-1 Blackburn (a); 2-1 Watford (h)
Goals Leaders (league):
Liverpool: Agger 1; Crouch 1; Fowler 1
Everton: Johnson 2; Arteta 1; Cahill 1
Referee: Graham Poll
The lineup I’d play:
--------------- Reina -------------------
Finnan - Agger - Hyypia - Warnock
Gerrard - Sissoko - Alonso - Gonzalez
---------- Fowler – Bellamy ---------
Obviously, this is assuming Carragher and Riise aren’t fit. The possibility of either playing looks far better than it did earlier in the week, as they both resumed training on Thursday, but I’m still skeptical. Of course, if they’re healthy, they’re two of the first names on the team sheet.
If it lines up like this, I think we’ll see Kuyt for Fowler fairly early in the second half. I’m tempted to go with a 5-man midfield, adding Pennant and starting just Kuyt upfront, but I’m of a firm belief that the derby is no place for a player’s first start. I almost left out Gonzalez for Garcia or Zenden, and Warnock is in over Aurelio, for reasons along the same lines. The fact that Robbie knows all about the derby, not to mention he’s been the only first team striker in training for the past two weeks thanks to the internationals, means I imagine he’ll get a start. And Bellamy’s just the narky little twat who thrives in games like this.
Of course, it’s always difficult to pick the formation Rafa’ll play, let alone the players who will start. I want to see two strikers because I know it means Liverpool will take the game to Everton, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lone striker and a five in midfield by any means. Everton had been using a five man midfield, but with the sale of Kilbane and McFadden's injury, I wouldn't be surprised to see both Johnson and Beattie starting. Hopefully both teams will come out looking to attack, but it'll probably go the opposite way and we'll end up seeing the ball trapped in the middle of the park.