Liverpool are to take on Everton for the second time in as many months, with the Toffees visiting Anfield for an FA Cup 3rd round tie this Friday.
Last months encounter between the Merseyside clubs saw Wayne Rooney’s second half penalty cancel out Mohamed Salah’s opener.
This could be a different game with both sides having just come through a busy festive schedule.
To get an opposing view of this fixture, we spoke to those behind the Everton blog Royal Blue Mersey.
How confident are Everton heading into this one? After a good start under Allardyce, your last couple of results have been a bit more disappointing.
Not very. I mean, there’s always a chance that Allardyce could hoodwink Klopp yet again, but the German is a good enough manager that adjustments will likely have been made to account for the likelihood that Everton park the bus.
Plus, Everton are in a horrible run of attacking form. They rarely register a shot on target and score goals even more rarely. Bringing Gylfi Sigurdsson back from rotation and integrating Cenk Tosun will assuredly help, but probably not tomorrow.
Frankly – and this is not intended to slate a particular individual, because everyone has these types of players – some of the hope that I have for this derby is that one of the mistake-prone Liverpool players makes a mistake.
What did you make of the derby last month? Do you think we’ll see a similar game this time around?
Last month’s match was incredibly predictable. Allardyce had not had much time with his team, and they were still at the point where they needed results no matter how they got them. I don’t think the cup match will be similar, because it’s an elimination game, but mostly because the FA Cup represents Everton’s last chance to make something of this mediocre campaign.
To the extent his personnel allows, I suspect Big Sam will be more adventurous. They tried for a half against Manchester United and looked pretty decent.
How high on the list of priorities is the FA Cup for Everton? Do you think you’ll be making a lot of changes to the team?
The FA Cup should be the highest priority for Everton. We’re not getting relegated, and a cup run combined with breaking the streak at Anfield would mean a great deal to fans who have been disappointed with the season.
There should be 3-4 changes from the United match, which will result in a largely first-choice XI.
Do you think we’ll see a similar approach from Allardyce here or can you see him encouraging you to have more of a go?
As I briefly mentioned, I think they’ll have more of a go – it’d be hard to have less of one than last time, right? The return of Yannick Bolasie and possible availability of Tosun means that Everton can at least rely on a little more quality in the final third, too.
Any injury news? Your predicted XI?
The long term absentees remain absent for this one – Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley, and Ramiro Funes Mori. Michael Keane will miss out, too, but it’s shorter term due to some stitches on his foot.
Personnel should be as follows:
Pickford; Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Martina; Schneiderlin, Gueye, Rooney; Lennon, Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson.
With a bench of Robles, Jagielka, McCarthy, Bolasie, Vlasic, Davies, Tosun.
📺 WATCH: Klopp discusses Coutinho's future, injuries and reveals who will start in goal vs Everton in his pre-match presser.https://t.co/Ph5yTPxSsB
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) January 4, 2018
What was your reaction when Liverpool vs Everton came out the hat for this round? A fixture to relish from your point of view?
It’s always a fixture to relish, particularly in the FA Cup. I was a little discouraged that it was drawn so early in the competition, though. A quarterfinal or semifinal would have been delightful. We can’t always get what we want.
What have you made of Liverpool this season?
Liverpool are a terrifying side to defend and yet one you always feel like a result is possible against. I’m not sure what it is – individual errors, lack of mental fortitude, etc – but it doesn’t seem like they can quite keep their concentration for a full 90 minutes, and that leads to dropped points.
When they’re on form, LFC can beat anyone, but the inconsistency inside each 90 minutes is definitely present.
A line on the Van Dijk transfer – good signing?
Virgil van Dijk is a wonderful player who will improve Liverpool, but I’m not sure any Klopp team should spend that kind of coin on a defender given that the system makes it a point to expose players along the back line with regularity.
The Everton player you think Liverpool need to watch out for?
Bolasie. You may not see him till the second half, but Liverpool’s fullbacks are young – talented, but young – and Yala will take their lunch money. Whether or not anyone can get on the end of Bolasie’s service is another matter, but he’ll be lively.
The Liverpool player you think could cause Everton the most problems?
Firmino. With Keane out, the three remaining CBs are either a) old, or b) Mason Holgate, who is terrible. The Brazilian’s movement and guile will be a nightmare.