Liverpool hold all the form cards going into this Merseyside Derby.
Manchester City’s closest challengers in the league are yet to lose a top-flight match this season, they’re undefeated against Everton in eight years, and undefeated against the Toffees at Anfield in an incredible 18 years.
The Reds can now boast the league’s best defence, as well as one of Europe’s most coveted attacking line-ups.
Despite things appearing rosy in the Anfield garden, doubts persist about Liverpool’s title credentials. These concerns are rooted in how they have been undone in Europe, with defeats to PSG, and more worryingly to Red Star Belgrade. It’s also a point of mild consternation that the Salah, Mané, and Firmino of it all is not producing the same fireworks as last season.
While Everton are less consistent than their often more celebrated rivals, two of their three defeats this season have come at the hands of ‘top six’ teams. West Ham provided the other.
It’s their away form that will give Toffee fans pause for thought. Just one win and one clean sheet point to travel sickness for Marco Silva’s side.
On a more positive note for Evertonians, they appear to be getting the best out of two of their most talented players – Gylfi Sigurdsson is the clubs top scorer in the league with seven, followed by Richarlison with six.
It’s curious what expectation can do to perception, Mo Salah is Liverpool’s leading scorer with seven, followed by Sadio Mané with six. Yet it’s highlighted as their biggest problem.
Drilling further into Everton’s away form is instructive and it won’t make for comfortable reading for their fans. In their six Premier League away games this season they have one just once and kept just one clean sheet. They concede an average of 1.5 goals per game on the road, which is worsened by the fact they only score on average 1.2 per game. It’s no surprise they have a losing record.
Liverpool’s home form is formidable; played six, won five, and just one conceded. To boot they average 2.3 goals scored per game.
Beyond this season’s form, Everton have to overcome the weight of history. In their last 20 visits to Anfield they have won none, drawn 10 and lost 10. Taking away the disastrous Anfield form, Everton have not beaten Liverpool in any competition in eight years – this rivalry is need of a turnaround.
All things being told, it’s not likely this weekend. The most impressive aspect of Liverpool’s performance this season has been their handling of so called ‘lesser’ teams.
Liverpool have won every game they’ve played in the league this season with the exception of three draws against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 2, 2018
The home side will be missing club captain Jordan Henderson through suspension while there’s question marks over the fitness of Adam Lallana, Dominic Solanke, Divock Origi and Kamil Grabara.
Everton are essentially at full strength for this game with the exception of James McCarthy who is continuing his recovery from last season’s leg break.
Jurgen Klopp’s side tend to start well at Anfield. They average over a goal per first half, and slightly less in the second half.
Considering the quality of Liverpool’s defence, I can’t see Everton overcoming a first half deficit.
Half-Time/Full-Time – Liverpool/Liverpool