06 April 2018

Liverpool at Everton 04.07.18

7:30am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports

Last four head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (h; FA Cup) 01.05.18
1-1 (h) 12.10.17
3-1 Liverpool (h) 04.01.17
1-0 Liverpool (a) 12.19.16

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 City (h); 2-1 Palace (a); 5-0 Watford (h)
Everton: 1-3 City (h); 2-1 Stoke (a); 2-0 Brighton (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 29; Firmino 14; Mané 9; Coutinho 7; Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain 3; Sturridge 2; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Klavan, Lovren, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
Everton: Rooney 10; Niasse 7; Calvert-Lewin, Sigurðsson, Tosun 4; Baines, Walcott 2; Bolasie, Davies, Gueye, Williams 1

Referee: Michael Oliver (LFC History) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Lovren van Dijk Moreno
Alex O-C Henderson Wijnaldum Mané
Solanke Ings

*throws hands up exasperatedly*

Can, Matip, Gomez, Lallana, Klavan, Woodburn. Probably Salah. All dealing with injuries. Not to mention the players who almost assuredly need rest. The first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal will have ended around 63 hours prior to this, and the second leg will take place around 77 hours after this ends.

Karius, Henderson, and Ings are the only players that I'm certain will start.

So, yeah, great time for a Merseyside Derby.

They could use the rest, but at least one of Lovren and van Dijk have to as well, and probably both, as 19-year-old Conor Masterson's the other options. We could get first choice full-backs if Klopp's okay with each's fitness for this stretch, or we could get both back-ups. Clyne's fit again and Moreno's around as well – and I also wouldn't mind seeing Moreno further forward if need be.

The above guess at the front six leads to a 4-4-2 just because of player availability. Both Solanke and Ings are fresh. So let's start both! Then we've pretty much got to 4-4-2, unless you're playing Ings on the left, which whatever, maybe. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mané are fine on the flanks, which would leave Henderson and either Wijnaldum or Milner in midfield. It's certainly not ideal, but it's not a bad side either.

Or maybe we get youngsters in midfield – Herbie Kane or Curtis Jones, players who've never made a senior team bench. Or maybe we get closer to full-strength. We all know Firmino hates games off. Maybe it's Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Firmino, Ings, Mané. Or Oxlade-Chamberlain in the front three with Milner in midfield. I don't know. You don't know. I'm not super excited to find out.

Meanwhile, Everton. This might be their best chance to break the Derby voodoo that they've had, yet to win since Klopp became manager, without a win in this fixture since October 2010. Since Hodgson.

They're at home. They, unlike Liverpool, aren't dealing with many injuries – McCarthy, Sigurðsson, Holgate, and Mangala are out, with two of those at most likely to have started. They're not in terrible form, coming off a thorough loss to City, but having won three of their last six, fairly secure near the top of the bottom tier of teams in ninth, but only one point closer to sixth than to the relegation zone.

It'll probably be an XI of Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Williams, Baines; Gueye, Schneiderlin; Walcott, Rooney, Bolasie; Tosun. Both Baines and Coleman missed this season's previous two meetings, Gueye missed the last, Walcott and Tosun have joined since this sides last spoke. And it'll probably be very Big Sam.

Everton's underlying statistics are not great. Only Huddersfield and Swansea take fewer shots per game. Only Burnley allows more. And while they've conceded a bunch of goals this season, they're scoring reasonably well – mid-table, which is exactly where they sit points-wise. And the goals-against has gotten better; since Allardyce took over, they've conceded three or more just three times: four at Tottenham, five at Arsenal, and three against City last week – all understandable results. But they've also kept just one clean sheet in 2018 – against Brighton last month.

So, yeah, who knows how this will go. Even with a "depleted" line-up – and who knows how depleted it actually will be – Liverpool should win. Liverpool should still have the talent to win. Liverpool, obviously, will want to win; top four ain't quite sewn up yet. We'd all prefer as few bumps on the road during the run-in as possible.

But Everton will have hope, something they've often lacked in recent meetings.

It'll be up to Liverpool to stamp out that hope early and repeatedly.

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