Everton ended a poor spell of form with a rousing victory against Arsenal on Tuesday. The Toffees have got some confidence back just in time for the clash against their Merseyside rivals. The atmosphere will be as combustible as ever and the action will be high-octane. We’re going to find out if Everton can peg back their old foes.
Gueye the Guvnor
Idrissa Gueye’s display against Arsenal last Tuesday was a thing of beauty. Gueye is looking like sensational business for a paltry £7 million.
He has everything you want from a central midfielder: Good technique, precise passing, great awareness, but also the physical capacity to turn and cover the ground quicker than his opponents.
The Toffees will need the same again from him to cope with Liverpool, who resemble Arsenal with their fluid combinations.
Baines is Back
Injuries haven’t helped Leighton Baines in the last couple of years, but the full-back is enjoying a late career renaissance this season.
Crossing from deep, Baines offers a directness that could hurt the Reds, who haven’t always looked secure defending balls into the box this season.
Both of Everton’s goals against Arsenal came from Baines’ dead balls, so it’s clearly an area of the game to keep an eye on.
We bet you won’t find a more frustrating player in the Premier League than Everton’s Belgian striker. Lukaku is a bundle of contradictions, because he’s dynamite on the ball but has a horrible first touch at times.
He’s also deadly in the area, but rarely picks the best runs to make. He’s at his best when dribbling at defenders, which makes you wonder if he wouldn’t do better on the right wing. In the same way that Brazil’s Hulk is often preferred out wide.
It’s just a thought!
Up to the Arsenal win, one of the strangest features of Everton’s campaign had been Gareth Barry’s constant presence in midfield. You can see Koeman might like him as he’s an experienced player who knows his limitations and uses the ball wisely.
But the difference in intensity against Arsenal was night and day compared to what came before. There’s no way Barry could match Barkley, McCarthy and Gueye’s workrate,
And in a frenetic derby Koeman will surely want to stick with a winning formula. But if Everton do end up with a lead to protect then the 35-year-old will be just the man to bring on and calm things down.
Right Wing Worries
Now Bolasie is out for the season the right side of the attack is a conundrum. Koeman has mentioned that he wants a new signing in January, but for now there’s a chance for someone to stake a claim.
Our choice is Enner Valencia, who has been begging for more minutes this season. He’s more engaged and consistent than Deulofeu, and has more of an end product than Aaron Lennon.
The signs were promising against Arsenal, but the West Ham loanee is going to need a couple of games to reach full speed.
Predicted Everton Teamsheet:
Stekelenburg; Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines; McCarthy, Gueye, Barkley; Valencia, Lukaku, Mirallas
Klopp is definitely a fan of Divock Origi and his faith in him is starting to pay off. The young striker has scored five in his last five starts as Liverpool seek to plug the gap left by Coutinho.
What’s heartening about his contribution is that he’s been scoring goals at crucial stages in matches, not adding gloss to score-lines. And you can see why he has the manager’s backing, as there’s real variety to his movement and he seems to have an intuitive understanding of link-ups despite rarely starting games.
If Simon Mignolet has convinced for the Reds, Loris Karius has shown that there are worse options that the Belgian keeper. The summer signing was given ten matches to show what he could do and the results weren’t great.
And unfortunately the Premier League can be vicious for players who are short of confidence. Klopp had to intervene because Karius was being singled out by opponents, which was only going to make life harder for him.
After just a few months in England, this isn’t the end of the road for Karius, but he may have to get used to the bench for a while.
We’re Loving Lallana
Recent fixtures have made clear just how much Adam Lallana has developed under Klopp. It may turn out that he’s the most influential player in the side by anchoring that mercurial attack.
He goes where he pleases behind the front three and is smart enough to know when to carry the ball or play an early pass. And his sharp movement has always got him into dangerous position, but as we saw on Wednesday he now has the calmness to convert his chances.
Dejan Lovren is the sort of player who can look immaculate for long periods but still end up doing something silly. He wasn’t convincing when Liverpool dropped points against West Ham and Bournemouth, but his replacement in the Hammers match is looking strong.
Ragnar Klavan took his opportunity against Middlesbrough, and could form a strong partnership with Matip when the Cameroonian gets back from injury. He doesn’t have Lovren’s finesse, but does the basics better, and that’s what Liverpool need after a shaky start to the Christmas season.
Liverpool Predicted Lineup:
Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Klavan, Milner; Lallana, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Mané, Origi, Firmino
When Will Everton vs Liverpool Take Place?
The match kicks off on Monday 19 December at 20:00 GMT.
Everton vs Liverpool Match Prediction
While the Toffees surprised us with their intensity against Arsenal they won’t be able to keep that sort of tempo up every week. Arsenal also carved Everton open a few times, and if the Gunners can do it, so can Liverpool who are unbeaten against their rivals since 2010.
These games are always played at a crazy pace, and that will only suit Klopp’s Liverpool, who are happiest when the ball breaks in the centre of the park. So we’re predicting a 1-2 win for the Reds, even if Everton showed signs of life last Tuesday.