Preview - Everton v Liverpool - Sun 28 Oct 2012, 13:30

Posted by royhendo on October 25, 2012, 11:30:11 AM

It's a tasty one this year, isn't it?

Everton sit in 4th place with 15 points, and have lost only once, away to West Brom in familiar circumstances (some good football, some good open passing play, but without enough incision in the final third). Meanwhile, they've chalked up some fine performances including a resounding home victory against Manchester United, and a crushing away performance at Swansea, where they looked a bloody impressive outfit. At that point, the kind of talk that gives a club and its fans vertigo kicked in, with chat of a realistic tilt at the top four slots... only for two relatively disappointing draws to follow in quick succession.

It's early days yet, but Everton currently sit six points ahead of the Reds, and look a good strong test for us in Sunday's game at Goodison.

With summer signings Kevin Miraillas and Steven Naismith looking useful squad additions, and with Baines and Fellaini looking pretty imperious thus far, it's a boost to Liverpool's hopes that Steven Pienaar is suspended for this game following his sending off at Loftus Road.

Three areas seem key.

The full back/'wing' duels

Everton boast possibly the tastiest of tasty left backs (outside of Jordi Alba) in the shape of Leighton Baines. He already boasts 2 goals and 2 assists for the season already, with several outstanding showings thrown in, leading to his England call up, and media calls for his permanent inclusion in the national team.

Liverpool, meanwhile, boast possibly the tastiest of tasty right backs, albeit playing out of position (and out of his skin) on the wrong side.

Meanwhile, the excellent Everton fans' radio show "The Blue Room" (on City Talk) rightly highlighted the form of Raheem Sterling as posing a selection quandary for them on the other side - that they'd prefer to see the experience of a Phil Neville pitted against him instead of the youthful exuberance of Seamus Coleman.

At the same time, Liverpool's Andre Wisdom has emerged as a robust and reliable option on the right, and will perhaps have an easier time of it than would otherwise have been the case had Stephen Pienaar not been suspended.

As such, the duals in the wide areas could be key - gaining the upper hand will in large part dictate the flow of the game.


A Busy Midfield
It's likely to be a busy day in the centre of the park. The tempo's always high, but it's not just Liverpool who are looking to build play through the middle of the park these days. Yes, Everton perhaps have more of a tendency to play direct, but equally, both teams are strong in midfield. If Liverpool are to assert themselves in the game, as you'd expect, we'll need our personnel in the middle (not just the midfield three) to outman and outwork their counterparts.

Fellaini has been borderline unplayable at times so far this season, most notably in the Manchester United game, where the away side didn't seem to know what to do with him. Again, it's fortunate that Pienaar isn't going to be available... and you'd tentatively expect whichever trio Rodgers fields to gain sway in this part of the pitch, albeit it'll be keenly contested, and the onus will be on Everton not to play as if theyr'e the away side. That could work in Liverpool's favour.


Clinicism Up Front
Both sides will have chances, and while Everton have striker who can score at the merest sniff of goal in the shape of Jelavic (four goals to date this season), Liverpool have shown a tendency to create chances (possibly more clear cut chances than we saw last season) but squander them to a profligate extent.

Yes, Suarez has scored one more than Jelavic, but the mind boggles at the thought of how many he could have had thus far, and at the impact that might have had on our points tally and goal difference to date.

The need for calm, patience, and clinicism will also extend to the supporting cast, and both defences will need to be resolute and focussed throughout.


False League Positions?

In comparative terms, Everton's had an easier run of eight games than Liverpool so far this season, with their only really big tests to date arguably the two home fixtures against Manchester United and Liverpool. We meanwhile have faced Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United at home, as well as the buggers that are Sunderland away and Stoke at home. That, perhaps in part, explains the disparity in the two league positions; however, we could have been far closer, despite the tough opening.

Small details dictate your fortunes as a football team, and it's fair to say the ability to finish and the tendency not to concede cheaply via lapses in concentration are they key things that contrast Everton's start with Liverpool's. Both sides, however, have played open and progressive football, with pace on the counter, and quality through the middle of the pitch. It should be a very good game indeed.

Me personally? I expect a 1-2 in our favour, with Everton getting a late consolation striker, and us holding out against a late re-enactment of Custer's Last Stand.

Brad Jones for President, we'll cry!

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