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Last four head-to-head:
3-3 (a) 11.23.13
0-0 (h) 05.05.13
2-2 (a) 10.28.12
2-1 Liverpool (n; FA Cup) 04.14.12
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-0 Bournemouth (a); 2-2 Villa (h); 5-3 Stoke (a)
Everton: 4-0 Stevenage (a); 1-1 West Brom (a); 2-0 Norwich (h)
Liverpool: Suarez 22; Sturridge 11; Gerrard 5; Sterling 3; Coutinho, Skrtel 2; Agger, Flanagan, Henderson, Moses, Sakho 1
Everton: Lukaku 9; Coleman 5; Mirallas 4; Baines, Barkley, Barry 3; Deulofeu, Osman, Oviedo 2; Naismith, Pienaar 1
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Atkinson's done two Merseyside derbies. In his first, a 1-0 Liverpool win in 2009-10, he sent off both Kyrgiakos and Pienaar (and Pienaar should have walked even earlier). In the second, a 2-0 Liverpool win in 2011-12, he (wrongly) sent off Jack Rodwell. This seems ominous.
Guess at a line-up:
Flanagan Skrtel Toure Cissokho
Sterling Sturridge Suarez
Have I mentioned that I hate Merseyside derbies because I really hate Merseyside derbies.
I especially hate Merseyside derbies when Liverpool have at least five key players absent. Enrique, Agger, Sakho, Lucas, and Johnson are all still injured. Liverpool's four best defenders and the lone defensive midfielders. That's not good.
But Joe Allen might, just might, be fit. And Allen's participation will probably decide the formation Liverpool deploys. If Allen's fit, Liverpool seem certain to play 4-2-2-2, with Gerrard and Allen central, Henderson on one of the flanks, and Coutinho or Sterling – probably the former – on the other side.
If he's not, then my best guess is the above lineup, similar to the formation deployed against Bournemouth with a slight shift in the front three. It might be the same as against Bournemouth, with Suarez ostensibly central but often switching with Sturridge on the right, but I think that the front three used at Arsenal last season could be more effective: Suarez staying on the left more often, Sturridge and Sterling higher up the pitch for more counter-attacking potential. Or, it could be more of the 4-2-4 we saw against Villa with both Coutinho and Sterling on the flanks, but please no. Everton are hoping it'll be that. My heart can't take 90 minutes of that.
Regardless of the front six, there almost certainly will be no surprises at the back. Mignolet back in goal, Skrtel and Toure in the middle, Flanagan in place of Kelly on the right, and Cissokho on the left. Maybe both Kelly and Flanagan start rather than Cissokho, but I doubt it given Kelly's struggles on Saturday.
It's not as if Everton are without injury problems of their own. Barkley, Oviedo, Deulofeu, Gibson, Alcaraz, and Kone will all miss out, while Pienaar, Coleman, and Distin are doubtful. Those players account for 13 of Everton's 35 goals this season, and include Everton's player of the season so far; Coleman's been even more influential than Romelu Lukaku. Still, they've more than enough weapons to punish Liverpool, most notably Lukaku, who's scored in each of his last three league matches against Liverpool.
If all the above players are absent, Everton's XI will most likely be: Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Stones, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; Naismith, Osman, Mirallas; Lukaku. But I'd be surprised if both Coleman and Distin were absent, probably because of my natural pessimism. If just one is missing, he'll be replaced by John Stones; if both, Stones and Hibbert. Heitinga's a possibility, but he seems on his way out of the club. New signing McGeady could also start in place of Naismith. Regardless, it'll be a 4-2-3-1 formation, with three central players who'll look to dominate the ball against Liverpool's duct-taped midfield.
Everton have lost just three matches all season, just two in the league, and just once since October 5. But they've drawn more matches than all except West Brom, with nine of their 22 league fixtures ending level. Most of the draws have come on the road, but Martinez's side is equally tough to beat both home and away.
And all three derbies under Brendan Rodgers have been draws: 2-2 away and 0-0 at home last season, 3-3 at Goodison this season. With just one point separating Liverpool and Everton, and with Tottenham (who host Manchester City on Wednesday) sandwiched in between, a win for either side will given them just a bit of much-needed breathing space in the chase for the last Champions League place.