MX23RW : Saturday, December 7 09:26:16| >> :120:68636:68636:
Dec 4, 2019 at 8.15pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 53,094
Origi (6', 31'), Shaqiri (17'), Mane (45'), Wijnaldum (90')
FT(HT: 4-2)
Keane (21'), Richarlison (45')

Preview: Liverpool vs. Everton - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Merseyside derby between runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool and struggling Everton, including predictions, team news and lineups.

The 285th edition of the Merseyside derby takes place at Anfield on Wednesday night as runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool host struggling neighbours Everton.

Just one mile separates the two sides geographically, but in the table the gulf is much greater with Liverpool a whopping 26 points better off than their local rivals after only 14 games of the season.

Match preview

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on November 27, 2019© Reuters

Rarely in the storied history of the Merseyside derby will these two sides have come into the fixture with such contrasting emotions after a 2019-20 season which has gone in drastically different directions for them so far.

Liverpool have enjoyed a campaign which has gone better than they ever could have hoped for heading into December, whereas even the most pessimistic predictions for Everton may not have had them faring quite so badly at this stage.

The Toffees have historically had to watch their near neighbours pick up trophy after trophy in the past, and it looks increasingly likely that Liverpool's league title drought will finally end after 30 years this term.

Jurgen Klopp's side are eight points clear at the top of the table and 11 above Manchester City having once again capitalised on a slip-up by the champions with victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

It was a win which ended up being far more nervy than it might have been following a red card for Alisson Becker and Adrian's subsequent mistake to gift Brighton a route back into the match, but ultimately Virgil van Dijk's first-half brace proved enough to chalk up a 13th win from 14 games this season and 22nd win from their last 23 top-flight outings stretching back to the last edition of the derby.

Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring for Liverpool on November 30, 2019© Reuters

The goalless draw between these two sides at Goodison Park in March ultimately cost Liverpool the title last season, but they have much more margin for error now and they may well need it heading into the most demanding period of the season.

Liverpool will play nine matches in four different competitions during December, and that punishing schedule has only been made tougher by Alisson's suspension and Fabinho's injury.

The positive for Klopp's side is that they have already got their toughest opponents on paper out of the way; their three league games before Christmas all come against teams currently in the bottom half of the table, while they do not play another member of the 'big six' until January 11 - although a tricky trip to Leicester City is to come on Boxing Day.

A Merseyside derby is never a game which can be taken for granted either, regardless of Everton's struggles so far this season, and despite amassing an incredible tally of 40 points from 42 on offer so far, they have been made to work hard for almost every single one of those points.

Manchester City are the only team Liverpool have beaten by more than one goal in their last nine league games, while the Reds have kept only two top-flight clean sheets all season.

Adrian in action during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Arsenal on August 24, 2019© Reuters

Adrian was actually in goal for both of those and so his return courtesy of Alisson's suspension may actually prove to be a blessing in disguise. Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet in any competition since September - a run of 12 matches - and have not kept one in any of their 11 Anfield outings this term.

Such a poor defensive run - their worst since 1998 - completely contradicts their general form, and should they avoid defeat on Wednesday night then they would set a new club record of 32 top-flight games unbeaten.

At Anfield Liverpool have now won 14 consecutive Premier League games - their second-longest winning run in the top flight behind only a 21-game streak in 1972 - while their unbeaten streak in front of their own fans stands at 47.

It is as much a fortress now as it ever was in Liverpool's glory years, then, and that posts a particularly daunting picture for an Everton side winless at the stadium since 1999.

Everton manager Marco Silva gives instructions on November 9, 2019© Reuters

Indeed, Everton's derby record home or away has been dreadful for some time now and, while nothing would lift their spirits quite like getting one over on their greatest rivals, it is hard to find anything to suggest that might happen on Wednesday night.

Marco Silva has seemingly been on the brink for months now, and his hopes of hanging on have certainly not been helped by a festive fixture list which sees them face Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester and Arsenal in their five games before Christmas.

Defeat in the first of those at Anfield could well be enough to convince the Everton board to pull the trigger, although it was difficult not to feel a tinge of sympathy for the Portuguese during Sunday's dramatic late defeat at Leicester.

The Toffees seemed destined for an impressive point at the King Power Stadium, only for VAR to award Kelechi Iheanacho's 94th-minute winner after he had initially been flagged for offside - a correct decision, but one which again highlights how big an impact such fine margins can have on the game and those who work in it.

Whereas the goal would have surely been among the most gutting moments of Silva's managerial career, he will take confidence from the performance against the league's second-best team and must now challenge his players to reproduce a similar level against the best the division has to offer.

Everton's Mason Holgate celebrates scoring their first goal with Richarlison on October 29, 2019© Reuters

There is no dodging the fact that Everton have woefully underperformed under Silva, though, with back-to-back defeats leaving them 17th in the Premier League table and only two points clear of the relegation zone in a season which began with genuine hopes of breaking into the top six.

Only three teams have scored fewer goals, only four teams have conceded more and only Norwich City have been beaten more than Everton this season, despite the Toffees spending more than £100m in the summer transfer window.

Things are even worse away from home, where Everton have lost five of their last six league games and have picked up a joint league-low four points all season. Indeed, stretching back to last season Everton have only won one of their last 10 top-flight outings on the road.

Anfield is perhaps the last place they will want to visit right now, then, with their best hope seemingly coming from the occasion itself - much like when Liverpool dropped their only points of the season against Manchester United.

The prospect of the visitors getting anything from the game does look bleak, though, and as if there was not already enough to be worried about, Everton have now conceded a league-high four goals in the 90th minute or later this season, while Liverpool have made a habit of scoring crucial late goals in recent weeks.

Liverpool Premier League form: DWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWWDW

Everton Premier League form: WLDWLL
Everton form (all competitions): LWDWLL

Team News

Liverpool's Alisson is shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson on November 30, 2019© Reuters

Alisson's red card against Brighton means that Adrian will come back into the starting lineup for this match, but the back four in front of him is likely to remain unchanged.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's pair of assists for Van Dijk on Saturday mean that they are now the highest-assisting and highest-scoring defenders in the league since the start of last season, while Dejan Lovren is again expected to be preferred to Joe Gomez in the continued absence of Joel Matip.

Jordan Henderson was deployed in the Fabinho role to cover for the injured Brazilian at the weekend, but there could be some rotation in midfield as Klopp looks to keep his squad fresh.

Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all played in the deeper midfield spot this year and are contenders to do so again, while fit-again duo Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri offer further options in that area of the field.

Liverpool's busy upcoming schedule means that such rotation is likely to become more frequent in the coming weeks, although Klopp is unlikely to tamper with his first-choice front three for this match.

Everton, meanwhile, will be hopeful of welcoming Theo Walcott and Fabian Delph back into the squad for this one, with both set to undergo late fitness tests.

Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Andre Gomes and Cuco Martina are all longer-term absentees, though, while Seamus Coleman is also sidelined.

Silva experimented with a 3-4-3 formation against Leicester and could stick with that given the improved performance and the extra cover it would provide against Liverpool's attacking full-backs.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Holgate, Mina, Keane; Sidibe, Davies, Sigurdsson, Digne; Walcott, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

Head To Head

It has been more than nine years since Everton claimed the bragging rights over their local rivals, with a 2-0 win in October 2010 courtesy of goals from TIm Cahill and Mikel Arteta still their most recent Merseyside derby victory.

The two sides have met 19 times since then across all competitions, with Liverpool winning nine of those and 10 ending all square, including the most recent stalemate at Goodison in March.

Divock Origi scored a dramatic last-gasp winner in the corresponding fixture almost exactly a year prior to this meeting, extending what is now a 20-year and 21-match wait for victory at Anfield for Everton, stretching back to Kevin Campbell's solitary goal of the game in 1999.

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We say: Liverpool 2-0 Everton

Liverpool have not been winning games comfortably in recent months, but they have been winning games and everything points towards that streak continuing here. Everton have a woeful record at Anfield, a poor away record in general and are a team devoid of confidence under Silva at the moment.

By contrast, Liverpool keep on finding ways to win - in different styles too - and it is hard to see anything other than a home triumph on Wednesday. There may even be a first Anfield clean sheet of the season to boot.

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Who will win Wednesday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Everton?

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