While the Merseyside derby needs no extra impetuous to carry a sense of importance, Liverpool’s obsessively-covered title challenge always adds an extra dimension to this fixture.
For Everton, a loss here would see them slump to four defeats in five, a win and they’ve taken six points from their last two games.
The Toffees enjoyed a revitalising 3-0 victory over Cardiff in Wales mid-week which broke a run of three losses. Marco Silva’s men have not scored back-to-back wins in the league since October.
It’s remarkable they’ve remained in the top half of the Premier League on that basis alone.
In Everton’s last ten, they’ve lost six, conceding 13, and scoring 10. Improvement is required at both ends.
Liverpool are another side with a pep in their step based on their last result exclusively.
Manager Jurgen Klopp was consistently fielding questions about Liverpool’s flat performances.
Having scored four in their previous five games, Klopp’s charges disposed of their critics critiques in fine fashion by beating a decent Watford side 5-0 last time out.
Their last ten games have seen four draws and two defeats. This relatively poor run is somewhat forgivable when looking at the teams they’ve dropped points to. Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United all caused Liverpool difficulty, Everton are not comparable.
In fairness to the blue half of Merseyside, they earned a point at Anfield earlier this season. Unfortunately for them, Jordan Pickford unearned it for them in the dying moments.
Pickford seems a strong character, and will be looking at Sunday’s game as a shot at redemption no doubt.
Regardless of the error, Everton were undoubtedly heading for a draw at best. They’ve not beaten Liverpool in any competition in nine years. That’s 18 games, nine draws, and nine defeats. Ouch.
Defensively Everton have been porous, conceding on average 1.4 per game.
Comparatively Liverpool are breached just 0.5 times per game.
The prospect of facing Mohammed Salah (17 league goals) and Sadio Mané (14 league goals) should have given Marco Silva and his side a few sleepless nights this week.
While the Toffees can take encouragement from their 3-0 beating of Cardiff, and they’ll likely out-perform their general form due to it being the derby at home, I can’t see them surviving 90 minutes without being caught out.
Unless they step out of character and put up the barricades, there should be goals there for Liverpool.
Everton manager Marco Silva will welcome back midfielder Andre Gomes, but Leighton Baines (rib) is ruled out.
Liverpool are hopeful that Roberto Firmino (ankle) will be available for selection but the trip across Merseyside comes too soon for defender Dejan Lovren.
Liverpool can’t afford to drop points. Everton are safe from anything good or bad happening to them this season.
I expect Liverpool to edge this in the playing and the scrapping stakes.
Liverpool to Win and Over 2.5 Goals at 11/8
A less adventurous bet, but still value, Liverpool to Win at 8/13