MX23RW : Friday, May 24 05:53:16| >> :600:76762145:76762145:
Dec 19, 2016 at 8pm UK at ​Goodison Park
Attendance: 39,590
FT(HT: 0-0)
Mane (94')

Preview: Everton vs. Liverpool

Sports Mole previews Monday night's Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park.

The final Premier League match before Christmas is a fittingly tasty one as Everton host local rivals Liverpool in the first Merseyside derby of the season.

Both sides come into the match off the back of much-needed victories, with Everton now sitting eighth in the table while Liverpool begin the weekend in second place.


Ashley Williams celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Premier League game between Everton and Arsenal on December 13, 2016© SilverHub

After a start full of optimism with four wins and a draw from their opening five league games, Everton have stumbled over the past three months and currently sit behind West Bromwich Albion in the table heading into Christmas.

Since losing their unbeaten record to Bournemouth in September, the Toffees have picked up just 10 points from a possible 33, winning only two of their last 11 outings.

However, Ronald Koeman's side will be feeling a lot better about themselves this Monday than they were last Monday, having ended a five-match winless streak with a surprise come-from-behind victory over title-chasing Arsenal.

Defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road last weekend would not have filled fans with optimism heading into a double-header against the Gunners and Liverpool, but goals from Seamus Coleman and Ashley Williams have now put Everton on the verge of back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.

The Toffees have now rescued a league-high 11 points from losing positions this season and are beginning to develop a reputation as strong finishers to games, having scored a goal in the final five minutes in four of their last five league outings, changing the outcome of the game in three of those.

Of course, they must be within striking distance of their opponents in the closing stages for that to happen on Monday, which could be a concern considering they are welcoming the league's top scorers to Goodison Park having kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 matches in all competitions.

However, the home advantage could prove important in this derby with Everton one of only three teams yet to lose in front of their own fans this season. Their last league defeat at Goodison Park came at the hands of Arsenal back in March.

The Toffees' home form has been in sharp contrast to their away form, where they have already lost five times this season, and four points from their last two home games against Manchester United and Arsenal will give them the confidence that they can more than hold their own against Liverpool too.

For what it's worth, Everton also have a good record in Merseyside derbies that have been played on a Monday, losing just one and winning three of the previous six.

Recent form: LDLDLW


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watches on during the Premier League clash with Watford at Anfield on November 6, 2016© SilverHub

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has crammed a lot into his 14 months in charge of the club so far, including two cup finals, but this will be the German's first visit to Goodison Park.

The 1-1 draw in the corresponding fixture last season proved to be Brendan Rodgers's final match at the helm, and it is fair to say that the Liverpool who will make the short trip across Stanley Park on Monday are a much different proposition to the one that last made the visit.

Liverpool's form so far this season has hinted at a possible title challenge, with the gap to leaders Chelsea just six points as we approach the halfway stage of the campaign.

The Reds currently sit second in the table, but the scheduling of the fixture means that they are guaranteed to start Monday's match in third with Manchester City and Arsenal - the two teams directly below them - facing each other on Sunday. Indeed, Chelsea could go nine points clear of the Reds with a win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

However, as things stand Liverpool are 10 points and seven places better off than they were at the same stage of last season, and Klopp will be hoping that his side have overcome a recent blip that saw them throw away leads in a defeat to Bournemouth and a 2-2 draw with West Ham United.

Wednesday night saw them return to winning ways in impressive fashion against Middlesbrough, who had not been beaten at home by more than one goal all year before Liverpool's 3-0 triumph.

The Reds haven't managed back-to-back league wins since the start of November, but they are the joint-highest scorers away from home this season and have amassed the number amount of points on their travels as they have at Anfield.

The main concern for Liverpool so far this season has been their defensive record, with no team having conceded more in the top nine, although they have kept clean sheets in three of their last five league outings.

It is their goals at the other end of the pitch that have made the difference so far, though, and the current Liverpool side have already scored double the number they had managed after 16 games of last season.

Entertainment seems to be guaranteed with the Reds, whose 16 matches have seen a league-high 60 goals this season, but it is three points that they will be after on Monday as they look to keep the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the table.

Recent form: WDWLDW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWLDW

Team News

Liverpool FC goalkeeper Simon Mignolet before the Europa League game between FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Liverpool FC at Matmut Atlantique Stadium on September 17, 2015 in Bordeaux, France. © Getty Images

The biggest decision for Klopp to make for this derby once again surrounds his goalkeepers, with Loris Karius dropped to the bench for the midweek win over Middlesbrough.

Having kept a clean sheet in that match, Simon Mignolet is expected to retain his place in the side at Goodison, with Karius forced to watch on from the bench again.

Divock Origi picked up a knock on Wednesday and is one of a number of players who will face a late fitness test. Joel Matip, who missed the win over Boro, could return at the heart of the defence if he recovers from an ankle problem.

Emre Can is also nearing a return from a knee injury, but the match is expected to come too soon for Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, the latter of whom has scored four goals in his last five league Merseyside derbies.

Adam Lallana is expected to start again having scored twice and created another in midweek, taking his tallies for the season to six goals and six assists - already more than he managed in the whole of last season.

Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa are the only players who have been directly involved in more goals this season, but Everton's Romelu Lukaku can match that tally having scored nine and created three more.

The Belgian, who scored in the corresponding fixture last season, will lead the line again for the Toffees, who will be without captain Phil Jagielka following his late red card against Arsenal.

Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic are long-term absentees for Koeman, who must also decide whether to stick with Aaron Lennon and Antonio Valencia in the wide areas.

Everton possible starting lineup:
Stekelenburg; Coleman, Funes Mori, Williams, Baines; McCarthy, Gueye, Barkley; Deulofeu, Lukaku, Lennon

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Lallana; Mane, Firmino, Origi

Head To Head

The bragging rights on Merseyside have belonged almost exclusively to Liverpool in recent years, with the Reds currently on an 11-match unbeaten streak against the Toffees in the league - their longest run in the derby since March 1979 to March 1984.

Liverpool have won just four of those 11 games, but their record improves to nine wins and just one defeat in their last 19 league derbies, with Everton's most recent win in this fixture coming in October 2010 at Goodison.

The last clash between the two sides proved to be one of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies in recent memory as Liverpool thrashed 10-man Everton 4-0 at Anfield in April.

This fixture has seen more red cards than any other in Premier League history (21), with 11 of those coming at Goodison Park - another Premier League record.

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We say: Everton 1-3 Liverpool

Everton should be full of confidence following their win over Arsenal, but their recent record in Merseyside derbies is poor. The Reds looked back to their free-flowing best against Watford and, with Everton missing the leadership of Jagielka, it will be a tough ask for the hosts to keep their local rivals at bay.

Who will win Monday's Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool?

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Liverpool FC goalkeeper Simon Mignolet before the Europa League game between FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Liverpool FC at Matmut Atlantique Stadium on September 17, 2015 in Bordeaux, France.
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