The Merseyside derby arrives at a pivotal time of the season for both clubs as Liverpool host Everton at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday.
Everton appear to be on the rise under Sam Allardyce, winning his first league game in charge of the Toffees last weekend with a much-needed 2-0 victory at home against Huddersfield. That victory was followed by a convincing 3-0 success away to Apollon Limassol in midweek, handing the Merseyside club their first Europa League victory in the final match of an otherwise disastrous group stage.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have been firing on all cylinders. A 5-1 romp away to Brighton last weekend preceded their 7-0 battering of Spartak Moscow at Anfield on Wednesday night. The devastating front four of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho ran riot that evening, and will be looking to pick up where they left off on the same ground against their neighbours on Sunday.
If Everton are to have any chance of continuing their recent upturn in form against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, they will need every bit of Allardyce’s vast experience and the full power of his notorious, tough tactical approach to such fixtures. Stopping Liverpool’s attack at a time when it is in full swing will be top of the agenda. Having climbed to 11th in the league, the Toffees must take a positive result from this fiery fixture to continue their momentum.
For Liverpool, the significance of this game goes beyond the tradition of the derby. A victory for Klopp’s side would take them level on points with Chelsea in third, who fell to a 1-0 defeat away at West Ham on Saturday. With the inconsistent form of Tottenham and Arsenal below them, this could be the perfect opportunity to further strengthen their position in fourth place where they currently sit. A win in a game of such significance on multiple counts could also provide the platform for the Reds to push on and challenge the top three.
Klopp will have to make do without left-back Alberto Moreno, who has enjoyed a resurgence in form this season but suffered an ankle injury during the game against Spartak Moscow in midweek. It remains unclear how much of the festive period the Spaniard will miss, but he is certainly out of this clash. The loss of Moreno will see Klopp choose between understudy Andrew Robertson or the veteran James Milner, who occupied the left-back role at Liverpool for the majority of last season, to fill the void at fullback.
Joel Matip and Adam Lallana, meanwhile, remain on the fringes of first team selection as they both continue to recover their fitness from respective injury problems.
Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, has a lengthier list of absentees to contend with at Everton. Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Ross Barkley, Yannick Bolasie, Maarten Stekelenburg and James McCarthy all remain side-lined for the Toffees.
Ademola Lookman will be hoping to have earned his chance to feature for his side against Liverpool, having played a starring role in Everton’s 3-0 victory in midweek, scoring two goals. Allardyce will also have to decide whether to continue with another youngster in Dominic Calvert-Lewin leading the line, or opt for a more experienced head in either Oumar Niasse or derby specialist and Merseyside-born Wayne Rooney.