The Merseyside derby kicks off a huge day of football in the Premier League as Liverpool and Everton do battle at Anfield today. It will be Sam Allardyceâ€™s third game in charge of the Toffees with his side hitting a spot of good form at just the right time, keeping clean sheets in each of their last three outings, including a 3-0 win against Apollon Limassol in the Europa League on Thursday.
Allardyce has urged his side to stick to their own game plan and not let the enormity of the Merseyside derby occasion intimidate them.
â€œThe whole occasion is a great test for the players,â€ Allardyce said. â€œIt is one they need to rise to and no matter how well Liverpool are playing at the moment it is a derby and anything can happen. All I can ask the players is to play their best game.
â€œWe donâ€™t want to let the occasion overawe us… We know we probably wonâ€™t have as much possession as Liverpool do but we need to ensure we maximise it when we do and use it in the right manner. Then when we get a chance, we need to be very clinical. Hopefully that can give us a good performance and at the end of that a result.â€
Liverpoolâ€™s only defeat in their last 20 games in all competitions at Anfield either side of last summer (W12 D7) was a 2-1 loss to Sam Allardyceâ€™s Crystal Palace on April 23 in the Premier League.
Liverpool also won their midweek European clash – a 7-0 victory against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League – to extended their unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions.
â€œThe challenge for all of us in the stadium is that we donâ€™t expect that we play football like we did in the last 20 minutes against Moscow,â€ Jurgen Klopp said. â€œThat was confident, that was flying, all that stuff – we have to start from the ground, from the basics again.
â€œWe have to be ready for hard challenges. But, from our side for sure, it should not be only hard. Thatâ€™s all that we know about a game like this, and then we can win the game.â€
Phil Jagielka is set to return to the Everton squad for todayâ€™s Merseyside derby. The defender missed the Premier League victories over West Ham and Huddersfield but is fit again, although he and Michael Keane may have to settle for spots on the bench after back-to-back clean sheets. James McCarthy and Yannick Bolasie are back in training and nearing returns.
Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno could be sidelined for up to six weeks with an ankle injury. The defender will be assessed by a second specialist over the weekend but the fear is the problem, sustained in Wednesdayâ€™s win over Spartak Moscow, could keep him out until the new year.
James Milner is likely to fill the vacancy for todayâ€™s clash while captain Jordan Henderson is set to start in midfield after sitting out in midweek.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 14 games in all competitions against Everton – just one game short of their longest-ever such run against their Merseyside rivals (15, set between March 1972 and April 1978).
Everton are winless in 17 successive Premier League visits to Anfield (D8 L9), since a 1-0 win in September 1999 thanks to a Kevin Campbell strike.
Indeed, Everton have won just one of their last 21 top-flight games against Liverpool (W1 D9 L11), a 2-0 victory in October 2010.
Liverpool have scored four 90th-minute winning goals against Everton in the Premier League – no side has scored more against a specific opponent in the competition (also Chelsea vs Wigan, Newcastle vs Tottenham and Tottenham vs West Ham).
This fixture has seen a record 21 red cards issued across the 50 Premier League meetings, with 14 for Everton and seven for Liverpool.
Mohamed Salah has had a hand in 15 goals in his first 15 Premier League games for Liverpool – more than any other player for the club. (12 goals, three assists)