The Merseyside derby. Usually a day of Everton dread; usually a day of Everton nerves. This time around, however, things feel different. Carlo Ancelotti’s transformation is underway; James Rodriguez has arrived, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is leading the line as well as the golden boot race.
For the first time in a decade, that Everton dread and those Everton nerves have been exchanged with the excitement and anticipation that, finally, today could be the day of Merseyside victory.
Liverpool, off the back of an Aston Villa thumping, will be desperate to send a swift reminder of their credentials, setting up one of the most intriguing derby days for years.
Liverpool Looking to Bounce Back from Villa Defeat with Derby Victory
🔵 𝙏𝙀𝘼𝙈 𝙉𝙀𝙒𝙎 🔵
▫️ Allan and @aftgomes return to the starting XI.
▫️ Deadline Day duo Robin Olsen and @BenG0dfrey feature on the bench. #COYB 🔵 #EFC pic.twitter.com/c0P9ENxj4L
— Everton (@Everton) October 17, 2020
Going into the game at Goodison Park, Everton are better positioned than ever to secure victory. Allan and Richarlison have been passed fit for the game, leaving Ancelotti with no new injury concerns.
Meanwhile, the in-form duo of Calvert-Lewin and Rodriguez are given their first Merseyside derby test as a partnership, giving a recently troubled Liverpool backline plenty to think about.
🔴 TEAM NEWS 🔵
How we line up for the derby 👊 #EVELIV
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 17, 2020
As for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp confirmed the news that both Alisson Becker and Naby Keita will miss the game, but all of Sadio Mane, Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip are back in for a starting place.
The news of Mane and Thiago’s return will give the Reds a much-needed boost following a night to forget at Villa Park. Yet, it is the return of Joel Matip which could prove to be an all-important one for Liverpool.
The towering centre-back, often the unsung hero, brings with him a collective calmness on, and off, the ball, something which Joe Gomez, and Liverpool, have lacked in abundance in recent times.
Rodriguez the Danger Man for Everton
Both sides, for the first time in forever, arrive at the game with a plethora of talent. From Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara for Liverpool, and Richarlison, Allan and Calvert-Lewin for the home side, both Merseyside teams look more than capable of out-starring the other.
But, it is new man Rodriguez who could decide the tie should he keep his form up against the recently questioned Liverpool highline. The Colombian’s ability to thread that all-important key pass could prove to be the difference-maker in behind what has been a vulnerable Reds defence so far this season.
The star power in abundance, both in the technical area and on the pitch, sets up the most highly anticipated Merseyside derby in years.
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