MX23RW : Wednesday, April 24 00:59:41| >> :600:65094391:65094391:
Apr 1, 2017 at 12.30pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 52,920
Mane (8'), Coutinho (31'), Origi (60')
FT(HT: 2-1)

Preview: Liverpool vs. Everton

Sports Mole previews the 228th Merseyside derby as Liverpool welcome local rivals Everton to Anfield.

The 228th Merseyside derby will see Liverpool host Everton at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime with both clubs looking to strengthen their cases for European football.

Three places and six points separate the two teams in the Premier League table going into the weekend, with Liverpool sitting fourth and Everton in seventh.


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp before the match against Arsenal on March 4, 2017© SilverHub

After a dreadful start to 2017 which ended Liverpool's hopes of silverware and even put their top-four aspirations in doubt, the Reds finally began to get their act together before the international break.

Having won just one of their first 10 games of the year across all competitions - and that against League Two side Plymouth Argyle in an FA Cup replay - Liverpool have now won three and lost just one of their last five outings.

That run includes victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, in addition to a breathless draw with Manchester City last time out, which has been enough for them to climb back into the Champions League places.

Ultimately, fourth place is still out of their hands - they are only four points above Manchester United and have played two games more than the Red Devils - but Jurgen Klopp would no doubt rather have the points on the board, especially considering his side have a kinder run-in than many of their direct rivals.

Saturday's match against Everton is their last meeting with top-seven opposition this season, although considering their record against the teams around them in the table that could actually turn out to be a hinderance rather than a help.

A gritty and ugly win over Burnley prior to their Man City draw raised hopes that perhaps the hoodoo which saw Liverpool struggle against the so-called lesser teams in the league may have lifted, but for this weekend they will need to summon the type of performance which has served them so well against those in the upper reaches of the division.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 14 Premier League games against the current top 10 this season, winning eight and drawing six, and another victory on Saturday would see Klopp create a slice of history as he bids to become the first Liverpool manager to win his first three league Merseyside derbies.

A win would also mean that Liverpool have already surpassed their total number of victories for last season and would be just one point short of their 2015-16 tally, and their home advantage makes them favourites to do exactly that.

A January blip saw the Reds fall to three consecutive home defeats against Swansea City, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, but aside from that they are unbeaten in front of their own fans since January 2016, including home wins over Tottenham Hotspur (twice), Manchester City and Arsenal already this season.

Another victory would see Liverpool win four consecutive home league matches for the first time since March 2015, lifting them up to third place until at least Sunday, when Manchester City face a difficult trip to Arsenal.

The Reds also boast the best attacking record in the division - including a joint league-high 36 goals at home - and Manchester United are the only visiting team to have kept a Premier League clean sheet at Anfield during Klopp's tenure.

There will also be an emotional aspect to the game as Liverpool look to pay tribute to one of their greatest servants Ronnie Moran, who passed away during the international break.

Recent form: LWLWWD


Ronald Koeman is all smiles during the Premier League game between Everton and Liverpool on December 19, 2016© SilverHub

In stark contrast to Liverpool's troubled start to 2017, Everton have been flying since the turn of the year and if the Premier League season had begun on New Year's Day then the Toffees would sit top of the table.

Of course, that is not the case, but their recent form has resurrected hopes of breaking into the top six this season and they will climb up to fifth place for a few hours at least if they are able to overcome their Merseyside neighbours this weekend.

That league position may be a little deceptive considering that both Manchester United and Arsenal have two games in hand over Everton, but they are now in a position to put pressure on the teams above them and Ronald Koeman has certainly not given up hope of chasing down what at one point looked to be a breakaway pack.

Everton trailed Liverpool by 16 points on January 1, but fast forward three months and victory on Saturday would cut that gap down to just three, and if they are able to maintain that form until the end of the season then there is no reason why they can't reel everyone apart from Chelsea in.

Everton's upturn in form can be traced back to their last Merseyside derby on December 19, since when they have lost just one of 12 Premier League games and scored 30 goals in the process.

No fewer than 22 of those goals have come at Goodison Park, though, where Everton are on a rampant six-match winning streak which includes five clean sheets. The trip across Stanley Park may not be a long one, but there is a big difference between Everton's home form and their recent record on the road.

Koeman's side have won just one of their last five and two of their last 12 away outings, and they haven't beaten a team who are currently above them in the table away from home since December 2013.

The Toffees have also scored half as many and conceded twice the number of goals on their travels as they have in front of their own fans and, considering they still have trips to Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium to come this term, that could derail any top-six ambitions.

However, Everton have kept four clean sheets in their last five games and, at the other end of the field, boast the Premier League's top scorer in Romelu Lukaku, with a joint Premier League record 10 of his 21 goals this season having come in the 80th minute or later - including two in a 4-0 win over Hull City last time out.

The Belgian has also scored three of Everton's last four goals against Liverpool, although his only Premier League strike at Anfield came for West Bromwich Albion in 2013.

Recent form: WDWLWW

Team News

Adam Lallana in action during the Premier League game between Everton and Liverpool on December 19, 2016© SilverHub

Liverpool will be without Adam Lallana for up to four weeks after he picked up a thigh injury during the recent international break.

The midfielder joins captain Jordan Henderson (foot) and Daniel Sturridge (hip) on the sidelines, with neither yet ready to return having been absent since February.

Sturridge was pictured back in training on Thursday but has since been ruled out of the game by Klopp, while the Liverpool boss also confirmed that Henderson has suffered a setback in his recovery.

Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are both expected to be available, though, after Liverpool chartered a private jet to return them home as soon as possible following their international exploits with Brazil.

Klopp must also decide whether to recall Dejan Lovren to the starting XI, with the centre-back not having featured since January despite returning from a knee injury in early March.

While Liverpool were unhappy with an injury to Lallana on the international break, Everton were rocked by the horrific double leg fracture suffered by Seamus Coleman during the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier with Wales.

The full-back could miss the rest of the year, and Ramiro Funes Mori also looks set to be sidelined for the remainder of the season having suffered a knee injury on Argentina duty.

Koeman's frustration at the toll the international break has taken on his squad will have only been exacerbated by James McCarthy aggravating his hamstring injury to further weaken the delicate relationship between himself and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill.

Morgan Schneiderlin will also miss the game with a calf injury, while Muhamed Besic and Yannick Bolasie are longer-term absentees.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Can, Lucas, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho

Everton possible starting lineup:
Robles; Holgate, Williams, Jagielka, Baines; Barkley, Davies, Barry, Gueye, Calvert-Lewin; Lukaku

Head To Head

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 12 league games against Everton (W5 D7) and should they avoid defeat on Saturday then they would equal their best-ever run against their Merseyside rivals, set in 1978.

Everton's last win over Liverpool came in October 2010 courtesy of goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, but that is their only victory in this fixture in the last 20 Premier League meetings, while across all competitions their winless streak stands at 13 games.

You have to go back to September 1999 for Everton's last win at Anfield - courtesy of a Kevin Campbell goal - with the Toffees having drawn nine and lost eight of their 17 visits since the turn of the century.

However, Liverpool have not won back-to-back home games against the nearest neighbours since March 2006, something they have the chance to do this weekend following their 4-0 triumph in the corresponding fixture last term - one of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies in recent memory. The reverse fixture in December was decided by a solitary Sadio Mane goal in stoppage time.

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We say: Liverpool 3-1 Everton

Liverpool always seem to turn up for these big games under Klopp, and having the home advantage could be key when you consider Everton's contrasting form at home and on the road. The Toffees will be confident of breaching the Liverpool defence, but we're backing the hosts to come away with a win against a visiting side depleted by injuries.

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Who will win Saturday's Merseyside derby?

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge in action during his side's Premier League clash with Leicester City at Anfield on September 10, 2016
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