Saturday, October 20, 2007

Match Prediction: Everton vs. LiverpooL

Home advantage has been the key to this classic derby clash in the last three seasons - with four of the six matches going to whoever was on their own turf.

And there have been fewer clear-cut triumphs at Goodison for the Toffees than their 3-0 verdict 11 months ago.

David Moyes' men were always in control that day as they wrecked Liverpool's run of 17 games without defeat and the Reds again come into this on the back of an unbeaten start to the current league campaign.

There are doubts about both sides though. Everton's defence has looked strangely shaky recently - they let in three against Newcastle last time out and have just two cleans sheets in 12 matches this term.

They came against Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday but Liverpool's expensively assembled forward line looks sure to pose a far greater threat.

The problem for the Reds is a familar one as their form has dipped ever since Rafa Benitez started to tinker with his starting XI for the game with Portsmouth a month ago.

Since then they've drawn three out of four and Benitez's hands could be tied this weekend as his players come back after international duty.

The big worry is Fernando Torres and, with his presence hugely important for Liverpool, anyone thinking of supporting should wait until his name is on the team sheet.

But, with home advantage, we fancy Everton to get something out of this game and if that's the case then Mikel Arteta has a key role to play.

He's outstanding virtually every week for the Toffees and it's been no surprise to see him linked with a host of big clubs recently.

If Everton avoid defeat then he's going to have a big shout for the man of the match award, especially as he's much fresher coming into this than many of his main rivals.

That last point clearly applies to Steven Gerrard who looks a dodgy favourite in this market as he's been nowhere near his best in recent weeks for either club or country.

Verdict: Everton 1 Liverpool 1

Premier League: Everton vs. LiverpooL

Victory for Everton over Liverpool in the 177th Merseyside league derby would lift David Moyes' team to equal on points with their arch-rivals from the other side of Stanley Park.

Both clubs have won four Premier League matches this season, but while the Toffees have also lost four, the Reds are still unbeaten. Should the 206th competitive meeting end all-square, it would be Everton's 1,000th draw in top flight football, and Liverpool's 1,000th in their league history. Liverpool didn't manage to score against Everton last season, but are chasing a sixth victory in eight visits to Goodison Park.

Liverpool's recent form has been disastrous, though saying this, they do still remain unbeaten in the Premier League. Early season form that had Reds fans purring and the media beginning to take Liverpool more seriously has dissipated after a spate of lacklustre performances. The Reds were woeful against Marseille and fortuitous against Wigan and Spurs. The pressure is on Rafa Benitez, and he dare not rotate the side for this crunch match.

Everton fans still hold fond memories of the 3 – 0 annihilation of the Reds at Goodison Park. They will feel that there is no better time to play the Reds, with the confidence seemingly sapping out of Rafa’s boys week by week.

With doubts over Torres and Hyypia seemingly there for the taking with the pace of Yakubu, Everton fans will be gleefully rubbing their hands together.

This game will be a very important test for the Liverpool players - it will be an indication of whether they have the mettle to win the league. With Arsenal in scintillating form and Man United grinding out results the Reds can ill-afford to drop any more points.

The Bluenoses will have high expectations of their league campaign this season. David Moyes has made a huge outlay on the excellent Yakubu who had begun to go stale at Middlesbrough. He is seen as the perfect strike partner for Andy Johnson. However, both of late have been struggling for form while James McFadden has been receiving major press coverage due to his heroics for Scotland.

Steven Gerrard is suffering his worst crisis of form since Houllier hauled him off the pitch against Basel all those years ago. There has been no hiding place for the Reds' captain who put in an abject display as England captain, though he was not alone in that aspect. He did miss an absolute sitter that could be the difference in England qualifying for the European Championships and Steve McClaren keeping his job. Will this be playing on his mind? There is no better game for him to return to form, he should need no motivation to perform well in this game. So, I ask the question, will we see the real Steven Gerrard?



Oct 7 v Newcastle (A) LOST 3-2 (Prem)
Oct 4 v FC Metalist Kharkiv (A) WON 3-2 (Uefa)
Sept 30 v Middlesbrough (H) WON 2-0 (Prem)
Sept 26 v Shef Wed (A) WON 3-0 (Carling)
Sept 23 v Aston Villa (A) LOST 2-0 (Prem)


Oct 7 v Spurs (H) DRAW 2-2 (Prem)
Oct 3 v Marseille (H) LOST 1-0 (Champions league)
Sept 29 v Wigan (A) WON 1-0 (Prem)
Sept 25 v Reading (A) WON 4-2 (Carling)
Sept 22 v Birmingham (H) DRAW 0-0 (Prem)



Tim Cahill is vying for a return to the side after a long lay off through injury. However, whether Moyes will risk him for 90 minutes is far from certain. McFadden is pushing for a start up front after recent good form. Thomas Gravesen is recovering well from a knee injury and there is a possibility he could join Cahill in the squad. Andy Johnson is still out and will likely be out for another two weeks.

Probable starting X1 (Howard, Lescott, Yobo, Baines, Hibbert, Cahill, Peinaar, Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Yakubu)


Fernando Torres is undergoing intensive treatment in the hope of making this match. Xabi Alonso could also be another inclusion as he returns from a metatarsal injury. The game however has come to fast for Harry Kewell and Daniel Agger who remain on the sidelines. Dirk Kuyt has seemingly recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the Dutch squad and will be vying for a starting spot.

Probable starting X1 (Reina, Finnan, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Pennant, Gerrard, Mascherano, Benayoun, Crouch, Torres)



Tim Cahill simply loves playing against the Reds, this game is primed for his comeback.


Steven Gerrard will look to bounce back from a disappointing week for himself by leading the Reds to victory.

Liverpool Boss Urges Players To Stay Calm In Merseyside Derby

Rafa Benitez has told his Liverpool players not to lose their composure in Saturday's potentially explosive Merseyside derby against Everton.

There is no love lost between Benitez's side and Everton at the best of times, but the 206th meeting between the old enemies will be even more combustable than usual.

Everton defender Alan Stubbs piled pressure on Benitez this week by claiming clubs of Liverpool's size should be challenging for the title every year.

That outburst may have been provoked by Benitez describing Everton a smaller club than Liverpool last season.

The rows will raise the temperature when the teams collide at Goodison Park in a game Liverpool desperately need to win.

After a run of one victory in four league matches left them trailing in the wake of leaders Arsenal, Benitez knows he cannot afford a repeat of last season's 3-0 defeat at Everton, so he needs all his players to keep cool in the derby malestrom.

"In these kind of games it is more important because everyone is talking about the rivalry between both teams," he said.

"You must be as focused as always with maybe more determination. You must analyse the game with a cool mind because if you think about last year you will lose your concentration and it is important to make the right decisions.

"If you are top of the table or bottom of the table it doesn't matter because this game is different. Collective responsibility is not the key just for this game it is the key for a winning team."

Fernando Torres, Alvaro Arbeloa, Andriy Voronin, Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun and Javier Mascherano are all in line for their first taste of a Merseyside derby.

While Benitez is concerned by his side's recent struggles, he believes Liverpool can reverse that poor run if they don't panic.

He said: "It is a good game for us now because we are not playing well and this one after the international break is important for our confidence.

"In football everything goes so quickly so it is important to be calm, look at the big picture and analyse everything.

"You have to say, 'I have a lot of confidence in my team, I want to win trophies with my club so if I have confidence how can I do this?' By working hard and getting the right selection."

Torres is making good progress from a thigh problem, while midfielder Xabi Alonso is close to a return after recovering from a broken metatarsal.