The 2013-14 English Premier League season is underway! During the season Sports Unbiased will select our EPL Match of the Week, where we will preview, debate, and predict some of the biggest matches in the Premiership. Taking part in this series of predictions are Mike Santangelo and Kimani Gregoire.
Week 12: Everton vs Liverpool
Preview: The English Premier League resumes this weekend following the international break and for Week 12 we have the 221st edition of the Merseyside derby as Liverpool travels to Goodison Park to face Everton for their first meeting this season. The Merseyside derby have been some of the most bitter and explosive clashes in the entire league (since the inception of the EPL, there have been more red cards shown in this match than any other) and I doubt it will be different this time around. However both clubs have a lot to play for as well. Liverpool are second in the standings, just two points back of leaders Arsenal, while Everton are sixth and are just three points behind neighbors.
Strikers: Liverpool has 21 league goals thus far this season. Only Manchester City and Arsenal have more. Of those 21 goals, 16 belong to the striking duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (each with eight goals). In comparison, Everton as a team have scored 14 goals, lead by on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku with five. Is there more that needs to be said? Liverpool have a sizeable advantage upfront with what I consider the best partnership in the league. Everton will definitely have their hands full with those two. I have not been a fan of Liverpool playing with just three defenders. I don’t think it is a recipe for long-term success and not against a quality team (such as Arsenal) they would be exposed. However I don’t think Everton has the quality upfront to do so.
Midfielders: Though Everton have some promising youngsters at midfield in Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas and Leon Osman, I’m going to give the advantage to Liverpool. I think the return of Philippe Coutinho from injury will be huge for the Reds as he is one of their best playmakers and will make things easier for the guys up front. You also have the steady Steven Gerrard as well as the tireless Lucas as a ballwinner. I don’t know how much Gareth Barry can provide for Everton. They sure could use Marouane Fellaini for this match. Unfortunately the Belgian international is now with Manchester United.
Defenders: Defensively I am picking Everton for a couple of reasons. One is my dislike of Brendan Rodgers employing only three defenders in his formation. He has gotten away with it thus far (save for the Arsenal match) but I don’t think this will work for the long run. Secondly, Tim Howard at net is superior to his Liverpool counterpart Simon Mignolet. Howard is one of the top stoppers in football and he is going to have to be at the top of his game for this matchup.
X-Factors: My X-factor for Everton in this Merseyside derby is striker Romelu Lukaku. The 20-year old (who is on a season-long loan from Chelsea) has been heaven sent for Everton, with five goals scored in seven league matches. With the firepower that Liverpool has coming into this match, I don’t think that Everton can rely on just shutting them out. They are going to have to score a goal or two. If that is the case then the Belgium is going to have to get on the score sheet. For Liverpool, I believe Coutinho needs to have an impact in this game. If Suarez and Sturridge are going to have to get the ball and create scoring opportunities all by themselves then that’s playing into Everton’s hands. Someone has to help take the burden off these two. Gerard would be a candidate but I’m sticking with Coutinho.
Prediction: Time for a prediction! Picking a winner for these rivalry matches are never easy. I am tempted to go with Liverpool here as they are clearly the better team on paper. However, Everton is playing at home and they are a very solid defensive clubs in the league (only Southampton and Tottenham have allowed fewer goals) and they have a top flight goalkeeper in Tim Howard. I think Liverpool will enjoy the majority of possession and have the better chances, but I think Everton will frustrate them just enough to squeeze out a draw.
Prediction: Everton 1 (Lukaku) – Liverpool 1 (Suarez)
Who will win our EPL Match of the Week?
- Liverpool (100%, 2 Votes)
- Everton (0%, 0 Votes)
- Draw (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 2