This weekend marks the 231st Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton and as ever it is set to be a hotly contested affair.
Both teams come off the back of matches vs the Premier League champions elect Manchester City, but both had contrasting fortunes. For Liverpool Wednesday’s Champions League Quarter Final First Leg tie produced another historic Anfield European night as the Reds’ turned in a scintillating display to blow away Pep Guardiola’s side 3-0. Meanwhile, Everton suffered an embarrassing 3-1 loss to City which prompted a chorus of boos from around the ground at full time.
Ahead of tomorrow’s game I caught up with Everton season ticket holder Adam to ask him a few questions ahead of the match.
1) How are Everton fans feeling heading into the derby?
Adam: I can’t speak for all Blues, but we aren’t exactly very confident. We are usually a very hard team to beat at Goodison but if you look at the performances we have put in against the top 6 so far this season, bar Chelsea at home, it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Also, our record in the Derby is extremely poor and we haven’t won against Liverpool since 2010. However I’d like to think our players would try to make amends for last week and hopefully set things right, but with Allardyce in charge I don’t hold much hope.
2) What did you make of Liverpool’s win over Manchester City in midweek?
Adam: Scary to be quite honest. We were almost like a training game for them to be honest and then Liverpool put in a performance as good as that against them – no one really wants to face you lot at the moment.
3) However, with Liverpool likely to rotate after that hard-earned win in midweek do you feel that Everton could expose any tiredness left in the Reds squad, especially seeing as our squad is injury ravaged at the moment?
Adam: I’d like to think we would. If we manage to exploit the weaknesses of Liverpool due to fatigue/rotation then maybe we would have a good chance, but we played a rotated Liverpool side in December and only sneaked a draw because of a fortunate penalty.
4) Speaking of previous meetings, what did you make of the sides previous two encounters this season?
Adam: I don’t think we deserved anything in the first derby. I felt we went there looking for a point and got what we went for, which when going a goal behind and getting a late penalty is always a buzz but looking back it wasn’t an approach we should be taking. However the cup game was completely different, as we actually looked like we had intent and for parts of the game we looked convincing and as if we were going to win but we know what happened from there onwards.
5) Looking ahead to this weekend’s game, who would you say are Everton’s biggest threats that Liverpool should be on the look out for? And what are your biggest weaknesses that we may be able to exploit?
Adam: Our biggest threat at the moment is Cenk Tosun. After a slow and difficult start to life in England he’s finally found his feet and has 4 goals in his past 4 games for us. He puts his head on the line (literally) for the team and isn’t afraid to put himself where it may hurt, which is something every fan wants to see in a derby. When we have the movement of Gueye and Davies in close proximity to him, Wayne Rooney can dictate the tempo of a game very well and Walcott and Coleman are constant threats down the right hand side so either Roberton or Moreno will have to be switched on at all times.
Our largest weakness is probably Tom Davies or Michael Keane. They are both very good players but at usually the worse times they have a tendency to switch off. Furthermore, Davies can also try too hard, causing him to be booked or constantly lose the ball. Morgan Schneiderlin, Ashley Williams and Cuco Martina are also very large weaknesses and for our sake I hope none of them start tomorrow.
6) Who are you most scared about from the Liverpool team? And where do you think our areas of weakness lie?
Adam: Salah is a threat, Mane is a threat and Firmino is a threat. The entirety of your attack is a threat, especially against our defence, as they seem to score goals for fun. But luckily for us it looks like at least two of them may be rested.
Although they performed well in midweek against a very good Manchester City side, I do feel your defence can easily be got out and so I hope we play a bit more expansive than we did in the last league encounter between the sides.
7) Where do you think both teams will finish this season and what are your hopes for next season?
Adam: I think it will stay the same as it is right now really. I can’t see Liverpool or Spurs dropping out of the top 4 and we aren’t finishing any higher than 8th. For next season I hope we get rid of Sam Allardyce and bring in Paulo Fonseca and then hopefully he can bring in players who we need and start again. I’d like to think we’d be back up their in the European spots next season and with the decline of Arsenal, we could capitalise and push for the top 6.
8) Finally, what is your score prediction for tomorrow?
Adam: I think it will probably finish 2-2, as although Liverpool will probably play a weaker side I still fear that we will somehow “Everton” it up.
Thanks to Adam for taking the time to preview tomorrow’s game. You can find him on twitter @ALFutbol.