Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool could climb to the top of the Premier League table once again should the high-flying Reds secure a victory over local rivals Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The Anfield outfit could only manage to clinch two draws against the Toffees last term, allowing the Blues to finish ahead of their neighbours for the second consecutive season. And although the visitors may be slight favourites heading into this crunch clash, skipper Steven Gerrard and company can have no room for complacency as Roberto Martinez’s slick side could go level on points with the Reds should they record a victory of their own.
Rodgers and Martinez share a link in that both were previously in charge of and played a significant role in the success Swansea City are currently enjoying. The Welsh team played an exciting brand of football under the current Liverpool and Everton bosses and it should come as no surprise that the Merseyside clubs are being recognised for their attractive style of play this term. Given the philosophy of both managers, this promises to be an entertaining affair.
Prior to the international break, Liverpool thrashed lowly Fulham 4-0, keeping their first clean sheet in the league since the beginning of September. Meanwhile, Everton only managed a 0-0 draw against bottom side Crystal Palace, though that meant Martinez’s side had managed three consecutive shutouts.
Both sides have conceded 10 goals in the top-flight so far in this campaign, though the Reds have been more lethal going forward and have scored 50% more goals than their neighbours. This has largely been down to the exceptional form of strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge who lead the Premier League top-scorers chart with eight goals each. With the latter a slight doubt ahead of this game, Liverpool might struggle to become just the second side to record a league victory at Goodison Park in 20 months.
Meanwhile, Spanish defender Jose Enrique looks set to miss the derby and the coming weeks of action after Rodgers confirmed that his first-choice left-back will need surgery on his knee. On-loan French full-back Aly Cissokho is likely to deputise for the former Newcastle star, though both Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson have previously played in that role. The news of Enrique’s injury will come as something of a blow to Reds’ fans.
Given that Enrique will be unable to participate this weekend, it will be interesting to see how Rodgers sets out his stall against Everton. The former Swansea boss has used a 3-5-2 formation on a number of occasions this term, though Liverpool’s return to a flat back-four with the partnership of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel at the heart of the defence saw them keep a clean sheet against Fulham. If Sturridge is not fit enough to start, then the Reds may line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Suarez in the central striking role and with Philippe Coutinho tucked in behind the Uruguayan. An interesting game awaits.
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