Tuesday, January 28th – Beirut
After 221 games between the old rivals of Merseyside in England, this years derby can be easily considered as the most exciting derby since a decade due to the current position both teams hold in the Barclays Premier League, Liverpool placed 4th (43 pts) Everton 6th (42 pts) in addition to the exciting game that ended 3-3 at Goodison park late in 2013, tonight’s game at Anfield will capture the eyes of Football fans worldwide. (Kick-off 8.00 GMT).
With all what was mentioned above, no one can actually predict the result of the game due to the number of injuries available on both squads with more than 8 sidelined players from Roberto Martinez’s side.
Everton FC injured players: Bryan Oviedo – Arouna Kone – Darron Gibson – Seamus Coleman – Ross Barkley – Gerard Deulofeu – (confirmed by Coach Roberto Martinez)
Everton FC doubtful players for Merseyside derby: Phil Jagielka – Sylvain Distin
The newly signed striker Lacina Traore won’t feature in the game either.
Liverpool FC injured players: Lucas Leiva – Glen Johnson – Daniel Agger – Mamadou Sakho – Jose Enrique.
Liverpool FC doubtful players: Joe Allen.
Despite the superiority of Everton in the last 2 years finishing above Liverpool FC in the league, the blues of merseyside never managed to win at Anfield since the 1999/2000 season when they won 1-0 in a dramatic game that featured 3 red cards, in addition last season’s game at Anfield featured a negative draw 0-0, the last time a team managed to win was in April 2012 (FT Liverpool 2-1 Everton – FA CUP).
After 15 years from their last loss at Anfield, Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard who was one of the 3 players who got red carded in that game explained how hard it is to lose in the derby.
“It’s difficult to put into words that feeling you have. If you lose a big game at Anfield it hurts for a few days but you have to move on”
“But losing to Everton at Anfield – that hurts for a long time. It’s the complete opposite to winning at Goodison. Ask me one league game I would want to win at the beginning of the season and I would pick Goodison Park, followed closely by winning at Old Trafford.
“So to lose against Everton on your own patch is the complete opposite to that. It’s a nightmare.” – Quoted from an interview with Mirror
From his side Roberto Martinez who was forced to play his young right back John Stones as a full back due to the injuries said:
“But John Stones is ready (to play) and has shown that he is adapting to playing centre-half. When he came to the club he was more a right back and now we are seeing him more as a centre-half. His performances against Southampton and Stoke and Norwich made it clear that he is ready. I would not have a problem with John playing and our quality wouldn’t drop.” – Quoted from an interview with Liverpool Echo
The Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had a few words regarding the derby too especially to the number of injured players
“It is unfortunate both teams are coming into the game with not the strongest squads because both have picked up injuries.”
“I said all along this was a group we needed a bit of luck with injury and unfortunately we have been hit with a bad run of injuries. – Quoted from an interview with Independent
And about the lack of signings during the current winter transfers Rodgers said:
“I think we have shown up until this point that with the squad we are a team up there on merit.
“If we can’t bring in the players who can help us that is unfortunate.
“If none comes in that will galvanise us even more and we will focus in on the players we have.” – Quoted from the same interview with The independent.
Finally it’s no wonder that tonight’s game will be as exciting as the previous game and even more as both teams will fight for the 3 points, as the draw serves no one but Tottenham who are currently tied with Liverpool holding (43 pts).
My personal prediction is that the reds will seal a 3-1 win to advance to keep their hopes in a Champions League spot next year alive, and this way attract more players to sign for them, especially after losing the interest of Mohammad Salah who preferred to sign for Chelsea although his Starting XI spot at Liverpool was more guaranteed.
Key player to make the impact in the game, Luis Suarez.