Ahead of the opening Merseyside derby of the season at Goodison Park on Sunday, the two sides find themselves approaching it in very different circumstances; Everton are being feted for their fine start to the season, whilst Liverpool finally won their first home league match of the season last weekend against Reading.
Yet things aren’t quite that clear-cut.
Whilst Everton have started the season well, they’ve only earned two more points than they did from the corresponding fixtures last season, and have drawn six of their last thirteen games, so perhaps they haven’t actually been quite as impressive as it may first appear.
Similarly, the stats suggest they are very predictable; 46% of their play is down the left side of the pitch, which is a higher proportion than any Premier League side has managed on either side of the pitch this season. Leighton Baines has created more chances than any other top flight player so far this season, with Steven Pienaar the sixth most creative. Whilst the South African is suspended, the Reds will need to keep a close eye on Baines, and this could be a big test for young Andre Wisdom at right back.
That said, Liverpool have allowed their opponents fewer headed attempts on goal (6) than any other team in the Premier League this season, so perhaps Baines’ crossing won’t be such a big factor in this match.
The first goal will certainly be key (not least as the team that scores it wins 69% of the time in the Premier League), and Liverpool may well have a decent chance of bagging it.
The Reds have scored in every away match this season in all competitions bar at West Brom on the opening day, and Everton have given away the first goal in their last four fixtures, despite only playing three of the current bottom five and a Championship side.
As is so often the case, Liverpool’s key man is likely to be Luis Suárez (and not as he’s their only senior striker!). The Uruguayan hit man has won all three of his meetings with Everton, scoring in two of them (capitalising on poor defending in both games), and picking up two assists in the other.
In view of the fact that Liverpool have now had three clean sheets in a row (having gone 288 minutes since last time they conceded, in the 72nd minute vs Udinese), and Everton will be missing Pienaar and Fellaini, I’m going for a 1-0 win to the Reds. But as a Red myself, I wasn’t going to say anything else, was I?