Merseyside Derby Preview: Struggling Everton host Liverpool

Former Liverpool and current Everton manager Rafael Benitez prepares for his first Merseyside Derby in charge of Everton. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Former Liverpool and current Everton manager Rafael Benitez prepares for his first Merseyside Derby in charge of Everton. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images) /
Liverpool visit Everton
Liverpool and Everton gear up for Wednesday’s big Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Everton, Liverpool gear up for another December Merseyside Derby

The Reds and Blues of Liverpool have it all to play for this Wednesday when Liverpool travel across Stanley Park to Goodison Park. Every Merseyside Derby has an electric feel around it, but this one in particular has an extra charge to it — former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will have his first derby crack from the Everton side.

Benitez joined Everton over the summer, leaving some Everton fans rather unhappy with the appointment, but tensions have somewhat calmed since. His Everton side got off to a fine start in the league but has since come crashing down.

Everton comes into this match taking only 2 points from their last seven league matches — currently sitting in 14th. October and November were not kind to Benitez’s side but strangely enough, their 2 points came against Big Six clubs Spurs and Man Utd. The Toffees will be hoping for a better December and to keep their Big Six hunt rolling against Liverpool.

Unsurprisingly, Liverpool has fared much better this campaign and currently sit third in the table — two points off Chelsea. After an uninspiring performance against Brighton and a disappointing defeat to West Ham, the Reds are back to dominant and winning ways. Liverpool swept aside Arsenal and Southampton in their two most recent league matches with a pair of 4-0 scorelines.

The Merseyside Derby always has magical moments in store. The latest clash between these two sides saw Everton win in the league at Anfield for the first time in 22 years. An early Richarlison goal and a late Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty were enough to take all 3 points that night.

Liverpool has had their fair share of recent Merseyside magic as well. Who could forget Divock Origi’s late header in 2018? And Klopp running halfway out onto the pitch to hug Alisson will be forever etched in our memories.

The last four league derbies have been evenly split — LFC and EFC both winning once and drawing twice.

Team news

Winless in the last seven matches and coming off a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Brentford, Benitez will need to have his side motivated and focused to at least take a point in this fixture.

The good news for Everton fans is Richarlison is back in the team after serving a one-game suspension. Mason Holgate will miss the derby as he serves the final match of his three-game suspension for his red card in the Spurs match.

Andre Gomes has returned to training but is not expected to be fit enough for the match. Benitez confirmed Tuesday that Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Tom Davies are not available either.

Liverpool will be without Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, Naby Keita, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones. Firmino is expected to be back in the next couple weeks while Gomez and Keita should return to training next week.

Klopp addressed the media Tuesday and made it clear that his side understands the importance of this derby but that they also must treat it like any normal football match.

"“We know what our supporters want. I think we are not suspicious of not understanding the supporters’ soul and we try to fulfill their dreams and we try to fulfill their wishes, and derby games are more in the focus, if you want. But from our point of view, it’s a football game which we have to approach like a normal football game.”Source:"

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You can usually dismiss recent form in derby matches but I expect Liverpool to continue its impressive recent performances and dominate this match. This will be the 239th meeting between Everton and Liverpool — the most-played fixture in English football history.