I can’t wait for Everton v Liverpool. Even as an impartial spectator I absolutely love it. It’s my favourite fixture in the football calendar. The passion, intensity and entertainment that courses through it make it so special and unique.
I do have the utter pleasure of holding a season ticket at Goodison Park and I look forward to going to the game all week, even when it’s not a biggie. Next week Everton play Stoke at home, hardly glamorous but I’ll be excited about it all week. That excitement and child on Christmas morning feeling is magnified and multiplied by 10 when Everton play Liverpool at home (especially when it’s on a Saturday).
I still remember the FA Cup game in 2009 so fondly. It wasn’t actually the most entertaining of games in terms of goal scoring chances if memory serves me correctly, but it was such a great game in a different way. There was such tension, I think it was the most tense derby atmosphere I’ve ever witnessed (I am only 21) and both sets of fans were in great voice even before kick-off. When Steven Gerrard went off injured early on it was like Everton had scored, every Liverpool shot off target was greeted by a big relieved cheer of “waaaay”.
It was dramatic, what with the late extra-time winning goal and the atmosphere- so keen even walking to the ground. It was a cold late January night and it just had a great feel to it. I was excited all day about it at school, jotting down my predicted line-ups in my Geography book, period 3. Then when I listened to the build-up on the radio on the way there and got to the ground there was such a sense of “this is no ordinary derby”. Not that derbies are ordinary by any means, but it was such a dramatic, atmospheric night and it was frankly one of my favourite ever games I’ve been to.
Back to the present day this derby is, like last season’s at Goodison, set up very nicely. Liverpool are, you have to admit, looking improved this season and pose more threat than usual with Suarez AND Sturridge up front and Coutinho in and around there for company. But so are Everton, the blues have Romelu Lukaku up front who would give any defender a run for his money and has been in fantastic form for Everton overall so far. Everton also have the “like a new signing” talent of Ross Barkley who, again, can cause any defence problems and if he copes with the derby atmosphere and intensity, he will be a big threat on Saturday.
Everton need to get back to scoring ways though, I wrote an article earlier in the week about how their wide players need to up their performances. Mirallas has been disappointing and Pienaar has looked rusty since returning from injury (an instant winner against Hull aside!). Baines and Coleman have stuttered a bit and I just think, especially in these big games, Everton thrive on their high intensity style of play and getting the ball out wide and crossing the ball a fair few times. That doesn’t mean “being ugly and long-ball”; it just means having a mixed style, which suits Everton.
The game against Chelsea earlier in the season was a great example. Everton improved a lot in the second half when they went to a higher intensity style and drove at Chelsea more. That also gets the crowd going more and gets Everton’s tails up. So I think the wide players especially would thrive on this.
It’ll be interesting as well to see how Everton deal with Suarez and Sturridge, I think Suarez is the biggest threat but Sturridge and Coutinho are big dangers too. But likewise, how will Liverpool deal with Lukaku, Barkley, Baines and co.?
Everton and Liverpool both have more passing, intricate styles of play nowadays so it should be an interesting derby in terms of how the style of play pans out. Both sides are very close in terms of quality. Also, it has the added spice of Everton having finished above Liverpool for the last 2 seasons so there is a really intriguing battle for the title of kings of Merseyside ahead this season.
It’s tense, it’s loud, it’s passionate, it’s aesthetically pleasing and it should be entertaining. Bring it on!!!!!
My prediction: Everton 2-1 Liverpool
(with Everton going behind.)