Frustrated Reds hope for derby day boost

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Liverpool's Martin Skrtel clashes with Everton's Romelu Lukaku in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel clashes with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park last season. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Everton and Liverpool go head to head this Sunday in the latest edition of the Merseyside derby, with the Blues going into the clash in a more upbeat mood while the Reds have been struggling to get their season started.

The match at Goodison Park will be the first time the sides have faced each other since a 0-0 stalemate at the same ground in February, and fortunes have been markedly different for the sides this week.

Brendan Rodgers and his players come off the back of a frustrating 1-1 draw with Swiss side FC Sion in the Europa League on Thursday night, and only one victory in their last five Premier league outings.

Despite dominating possession and creating numerous chances, one solitary goal was all Liverpool could muster at home to FC Sion, with Adam Lallana striking in the fourth minute. After barely beating Carlisle on penalties in the Capital One Cup a week previously, many feel a win and a decent performance are absolute musts at Goodison for a lacklustre Liverpool side to gain some confidence.

Everton are currently sitting pretty in fifth place in the Premier League table, and while they are just one point ahead of their Merseyside rivals, the Toffees go into Sunday’s tussle with renewed optimism after an impressive 3-2 turnaround victory against West Brom on Monday night. The in-form Romelu Lukaku scored a brace, with Arouna Kone also finding the net as Everton recovered from a 2-0 deficit.

Liverpool’s defence has been a cause for concern this season after shipping nine goals in four games, but Everton have fared better of late, most especially in the 3-1 home win against Chelsea which featured a Steven Naismith hat-trick.

Christian Benteke may return for Liverpool after hamstring trouble and he will undergo a fitness assessment over the weekend, but fellow striker Daniel Sturridge, who says he is “fit and excited” for the derby, is more likely to lead the attack.

Everton FC's Goodison Park. Pic by Vegard Grott © JMU Journalism

Everton FC’s Goodison Park. Pic by Vegard Grott © JMU Journalism

The Toffees haven’t beaten Liverpool in any of their last 10 meetings, with a 2-0 home win in 2010 the last time they claimed a victory. Everton boss Roberto Martinez said: “Being involved in the derby is a privilege, a unique experience – but you can only enjoy it if you win.

“We’re showing good form, so maybe people see us as favourites. But if you look at the amount of money Liverpool have spent in the last three seasons, maybe you would say they are favourites.”

Reds counterpart Rodgers said: “These are fantastic games. We’ve played well at Goodison under me, and been unfortunate not to come away with victory. I’m looking forward to seeing continuation of team developing well. It’s evolving and we’re creating clear cut chances, whether it’s home and away.

“We’re back in the flow, and we now need to make sure we take those chances. We’ll go there with confidence to create chances and score goals.”

About Leigh Kimmins, JMU Journalism