There may be less than a five minute drive between Everton and Liverpool, but they are miles apart in terms of pressure on their managers. The job belonging to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is under scrutiny after his side’s unconvincing start to the season, while Roberto Martinez hosts this Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on the back of a four-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.
There has not been many times when Everton have been deemed favourites to win a Merseyside derby, but they have been given that title ahead of this weekend’s clash. It is a big contrast this season as Martinez has managed to inject that free-flowing football that made him an instant hit at Goodison Park when he took over from David Moyes in 2013. Ross Barkley and Lukaku looked solid up in front along side the few magical glimpses from Naismith too. But fitness of Jon Stones can be a headache due to absence of Baines for long term.
Liverpool kicked off the season with Champions League ambitions, but now there are questions over whether or not they will end the season with Brendan Rodgers in charge. The Northern Irishman has faced criticism for his side picking up 11 points from a possible 21 in the top flight, while the performance of their team, which includes eight new summer arrivals, has been deemed lacklustre at times. But with Sturridge out at the front alongside Coutinho and Ings, Liverpool can be threatening at times. With only 7 goals scored in this EPL season Liverpool need more of moral boost by winning this derby.
Prediction: Rodgers has yet to taste defeat in his six Merseyside derbies, coming away with a point on all three previous visits to Goodison Park. His acumen, however, will be tested more than ever on Sunday. Liverpool’s defense could be ripe for a Lukaku assault and, while the last meeting between the sides finished scoreless, there should be goals on this occasion. Everton’s backline also remains vulnerable and Coutinho has the ability to find gaps in the midfield and pick passes through to Sturridge. An entertaining draw may be on the cards.
Predicted score: Everton 2-2 Liverpool