Jan 28, 2014 at 8pm UK at ‚ÄčAnfield
Gerrard (21'), Sturridge (33', 35'), Suarez (50')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Pienaar (38'), Barry (45'), Mirallas (52')

Merseyside derby: Three key battles

Sports Mole picks out three battles that could determine the outcome of this evening's Merseyside derby.

There have been few clashes between Liverpool and Everton in recent seasons that have had as much riding on them as tonight's meeting does.

Just one point separates Liverpool in fourth and their rivals, who sit in sixth spot.

So, as the race for a place in next season's Champions League hots up, Sports Mole has picked out three battles that could decide the outcome of this Merseyside derby.

1. Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge vs. Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin
The Premier League's leading goalscorer, with his partner in crime back from injury, meets the division's second stingiest defence - something will have to give. Suarez and Sturridge have scored 33 Premier League goals between them, which is more than 13 teams have managed, while the Everton rearguard has conceded just 20 times.

He may be 36, but Distin has not lost much of his pace, so he could be charged with the task of nullifying Sturridge. Elsewhere, Jagielka, who reads the game well, would be left with the arduous assignment of marking Liverpool's 22-goal Uruguayan international.

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates his team's second goal with team-mate Luis Suarez during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19, 2013© Getty Images

2. Romelu Lukaku vs. Martin Skrtel
When it comes to playing as a lone frontman, some strikers flourish, while others need an aide. Everton's loanee from Chelsea falls into the former of those two categories, as his nine goals and six assists this term highlight. Lukaku will no doubt be looking to use his physical presence, just as he did to his and Everton's advantage when these sides met at Goodison Park earlier in the campaign.

The Belgian international will be up against the no-nonsense Skrtel, who has been scrutinised in recent weeks for his manhandling of opponents from corners and set-piece situations. At times the Slovakian has appeared to be more concerned with preventing the striker from getting a run on him, rather than the destination of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on November 23, 2013© Getty Images

3. Steven Gerrard vs. Kevin Mirallas
There have been signs this season that age and injuries have started to catch up with Liverpool skipper Gerrard. Indeed, he has had to alter his 'Roy of the Rovers' role and take up a more reserved responsibility in front of the defence of late. When given the time and space, the 33-year-old can still land a 40-yard pass on a five pence coin.

However, his lack of pace and mobility is there to be exploited, just as Aston Villa's Andreas Weimann did at Anfield a fortnight ago. Playing behind a front two, Gerrard found it nigh on impossible to shackle the sprightly Austrian. Manager Roberto Martinez has moved Kevin Mirallas inside from the flank recently and is likely to demand that the Belgian does not allow Gerrard the time to settle in possession, as well as then taking advantage of his speed to get away from the England skipper when Everton inherit custody of the ball.

Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Gerrard runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham on August 24, 2013© Getty Images

Manager Eddie Howe of Bournemouth greets Manager Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Bournemouth and Liverpool at Goldsands Stadium on January 25, 2014
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