A Merseyside derby with major implications at both ends of the Premier League table takes place at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, as Liverpool renew hostilities with long-time rivals Everton.
Fifteen places and 47 points separate the local rivals in the standings at the time of writing, with the Reds still challenging for the quadruple while Frank Lampard’s side scrap for their safety.
While most of the post-match analysis centred around Manchester United’s abysmal display on the Anfield turf, quadruple-chasing Liverpool stuck to the task at hand to outclass, outfight and frankly humiliate Ralf Rangnick’s side to temporarily go top of the standings.
Mohamed Salah (2), Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz all scored and assisted one another in a 4-0 romping for the Reds, who have been knocked down to second ahead of Sunday’s game and could enter the derby four points behind Manchester City should the reigning champions see off Watford on Saturday.
There was not even a glimpse of an FA Cup hangover in the Liverpool ranks as Klopp’s side remain in hot pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple, and the German boss will likely already be planning for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with giant killers Villarreal next week.
Going in to the clash with the Yellow Submarine on the back of a 10-game unbeaten run would certainly be ideal, and Liverpool have found the back of the net twice in all of their fixtures so far this month – amassing a whopping 17 over their last six games.
The 4-0 drubbing of Man United also marked the Merseyside giants’ 11th Premier League victory in a row at Anfield – during which time they have conceded a mere two goals – with the Reds statistically the best performers at home based on points, goals scored and goals conceded, so it is easy to see why many believe Sunday’s derby is already a foregone conclusion.
Everton have not made life comfortable for their supporters all season long, and that theme did not change during the visit of midweek Leicester City, as the Toffees left it very late indeed to claim what could prove to be a priceless point in their relegation scrap.
Harvey Barnes had Leicester in the ascendancy after just five minutes of Wednesday’s encounter at Goodison Park, but in the second minute of second-half injury time, Richarlison’s scuffed effort found its way into the corner to send the home crowd into joyous celebrations.
Refusing to go down without a fight, Everton have taken four points from their last two Premier League games after also shutting out Man United on Merseyside and remain one point clear of Burnley in 17th, with the Clarets playing a game more and easing past Southampton 2-0 on Thursday.
The survival destiny of Frank Lampard’s side is therefore still in their own hands, but as the worst-performing side away from home in the Premier League this season – losing 10 of their last 11 top-flight games on the road – their chances of producing the shock of all shocks at Anfield are slim to none to say the least.
Then again, Everton have recent experience when it comes to Anfield victories after posting a 2-0 win there last term, but Liverpool marched to a storming 4-1 success at Goodison Park earlier this season, and Klopp has insisted that he would miss the Premier League Merseyside derbies if the Toffees suffered their first-ever relegation from the competition next month.
Liverpool Premier League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
Everton Premier League form:
Everton form (all competitions):
We say: Liverpool 3-0 Everton
Everton have certainly demonstrated more of a fighting spirit in recent matches, and the travelling crowd should be fired up to the maximum for Sunday’s derby, but that is unlikely to translate into the result that matters.
On paper, the Premier League’s best home side taking on the division’s worst away team only spells one outcome, and we are not expecting any shocks to occur as the red half of Merseyside celebrates at the full-time whistle.