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    Everton vs Liverpool Match Preview


    A mouth-watering weekend of Premier League football kicks-off at Saturday lunchtime as Everton and Liverpool contest the 231st Merseyside derby.

    The Reds have been in imperious form in recent weeks, winning five of their last six league matches, while they produced their best performance of the season in midweek to take a 3-0 first-leg lead over Manchester City in the Champions League.

    Sam Allardyce's side have little play for apart from local bragging rights, although the club still have a slight chance of finishing in seventh place, which could be enough to guarantee Europa League football for next season.

    Everton

    Everton have had an up-and-down season during 2017-18, with three different managers taking charge of a total of 45 matches and as many as 38 players appearing in competitive action.

    The Toffees had high ambitions of finishing in the Premier League's top-four when their season started in July having spent over £130m in the summer transfer window, but they found themselves 18th in the league table after nine matches.

    The club's poor league form, coupled with a group stage exit from the Europa League, saw Ronald Koeman sacked in October, while David Unsworth's eight-game reign as caretaker manager only yielded two victories.

    Sam Allardyce's arrival brought an instant improvement in fortunes, with the former England boss making the club tougher to beat as they kept five clean sheets in his opening seven games in charge.

    A seven-game winless run, which started just before Christmas and included a third-round FA Cup exit at Anfield, made some people question the 57-year-old's appointment but three January acquisitions once again brought in a fresh impetus.

    Cenk Tosun joined The Toffees in a £27m deal from Besiktas, while Theo Walcott signed for an undisclosed fee having ended his 12-year stay at Arsenal and Eliaquim Mangala was recruited on loan from Manchester City.

    Wins over Leicester, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Stoke have steered the club towards the 40-point mark, while Allardyce's side could still make a late charge for a Europa League place with six matches remaining.

    Wayne Rooney is Everton's top-scorer this campaign with 11 goals in all competitions, three ahead of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse who have both netted a total of eight times in 2017-18.

    Liverpool

    The timing of the 231st Merseyside derby is not ideal for Liverpool, with it taking place in-between the two legs of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester City, but it still remains an important game in the club's season.

    A victory would allow The Reds to climb to second in the table, albeit having played two games more than Manchester United and Tottenham, while a defeat would open the door for fifth-place Chelsea to challenge for a Champions League spot.

    Jurgen Klopp's team still need to travel to Stamford Bridge so they cannot afford to take their top-four qualification for granted, and they also have the quandary of whether to rest players in order to keep them fresh for Champions League action.

    Liverpool should be brimming full of confidence ahead of the match having produced a devastating performance against Manchester City on Wednesday, which leaves them on the brink of a first Champions League semi-final for 10 years.

    Goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane in the opening 30 minutes capped a wonderful first-half display, while they held firm after the break to avoid conceding a potentially-crucial away goal.

    The Reds have also fared well in recent Merseyside derbies having remained unbeaten in the rivalry since October 2010, with their current sequence of 16 matches without defeat a record in the fixture.

    Klopp will not risk the fitness of Salah, who was forced off in midweek after sustaining a groin injury, but Nathaniel Clyne will make his first appearance of the season having been kept out with a back injury.

    Everton Team News

    Everton make one change from the side which suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City last weekend, with midfielder Tom Davies replacing forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the starting XI.

    Idrissa Gueye is fit enough for a place on the bench having recovered from a hamstring problem, while Ashley Williams has completed a three-match ban but has not been named in the matchday squad.

    Everton still have several players unavailable due to injury, including record £45m signing Gylfi Sigurdsson who is not expected to return until next month after sustaining a knee problem.

    Mason Holgate (ankle), James McCarthy (broken leg), Eliaquim Mangala (knee) and Maarten Stekelenburg (groin) all remain on the treatment table and will not feature this weekend.

    Liverpool Team News


    Liverpool name an experimental line-up with the aim of keeping their players fresh ahead of Tuesday's Champions League tie against Manchester City, with the club making a total of five changes to their starting XI.

    Mohamed Salah will not feature having sustained a groin injury on Wednesday night, while Roberto Firmino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold have to be content with a place amongst the substitutes.

    Nathaniel Clyne makes his only start since May 2017 having fully recovered from a back injury, and Ragnar Klavan also plays his first match in over a month after overcoming fitness problems.

    Five players still remain unavailable for Jurgen Klopp to use this weekend, with Emre Can (back), Ben Woodburn, Joe Gomez (ankle), Adam Lallana (hamstring) and Joel Matip (thigh) all currently on the treatment table.

    Head-to-head

    Everton have not beaten Liverpool in a Merseyside derby since October 2010, when goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta earned their team, then managed by David Moyes, a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park.

    The Toffees have failed to win any of the 16 subsequent encounters, although exactly half of those matches have been drawn including the most recent meeting at Anfield in December 2017.

    A total of 51 Merseyside derbies have taken place in the Premier League, with Liverpool coming out on top on 22 occasions, Everton winning nine encounters and 20 matches between the teams ending in draws.

    The Reds have won 92 of the 230 overall matches contested between the two teams, which have been played over a 124-year period, while their neighbours have won 66 times and 72 contests have been drawn.

    Score Prediction

    Everton 1-1 Liverpool
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    Item Reviewed: Everton vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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