The latest in a sequence of big games for Liverpool sees them welcome bitter rivals Everton to Anfield for the Merseyside derby, where both sides will be determined to take the spoils in a fixture that has failed to produce a winner in the last three meetings.
In the wake of such a special and dramatic victory in the Europa League against Borussia Dortmund, it was impressive stuff from Liverpool on Sunday as their much-changed team still had too much for Bournemouth. It was their greater intricacy in the final third that made a lot of the difference as Daniel Sturridge proved that he is on the cusp of returning to his very best, glancing in a fine header and being cruelly denied by the frame of the goal on two other occasions.
This will be another chance for Sturridge to shine as he comes up against an Everton defence that has often struggled this term, while the impressive form of Joe Allen may just give his side the edge in the midfield battle. Meanwhile, the youngsters that Jurgen Klopp has introduced to the side in recent matches have done their future prospects no harm and will feel they have every chance of being selected here. Confidence seems high across the red half of Merseyside at present.
The same cannot be said about Everton, whose under-pressure manager Roberto Martinez faces a potentially difficult balancing act here as he looks ahead to the upcoming FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United. The temptation will be to name a number of fringe players in his starting line-up, but the fact remains that this is a Merseyside derby and that any defeat to Liverpool will be a painful one to take, so it will be interesting to see how the Spaniard goes about his business for this one.
There were certainly indications on Saturday that their visit to Wembley was highest on the agenda as leading scorer Romelu Lukaku was left on the bench and a couple of untried youngsters introduced as the Toffees scraped a draw with Southampton despite being second best for long periods. Ramiro Funes Mori profited from a set-piece in that one and that is where Liverpool have been vulnerable at times this season, but the odds are stacked firmly in the home side’s favour here.
Emre Can is set to miss the rest of the season for Liverpool after injuring himself against Dortmund, while Christian Benteke and Kolo Toure are both doubts.
Everton have problems at full-back, where Seamus Coleman is a major doubt and Leighton Baines will be assessed before kick-off. Aaron Lennon also faces a fitness test, but James McCarthy is back from a one-match ban.
Last Meeting: A stunning late strike from the unlikely boot of Phil Jagielka saw Everton earn a 1-1 draw in the derby in September 2014, rewarding their contribution to an evenly-matched encounter. A free-kick from Steven Gerrard saw Liverpool take the lead as his effort could not be kept out by Tim Howard, but Jagielka stunned the majority of the crowd as his half-volley arrowed into the top corner past Simon Mignolet.
Played for both – Abel Xavier: The French defender joined Everton for £1.5m in 1999 and went on to the make 43 league appearances in two and-a-half years without managing to score. However, he did find the back of the net on his debut for Liverpool as helped the Reds towards a 6-0 thrashing of Ipswich Town. In just over a year with the club game time proved hard to come by and he left in the summer of 2003 having appeared 18 times in the league.
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