A local derby is never short of excitement and this weekend’s meeting between Liverpool and Everton promises not to disappoint with both sides looking to restore confidence following recent defeats.
Everton will be hoping to exploit the home advantage with a win that would take them above their local rivals and turn a a difficult Premier League opening into an encouraging start to the campaign.
The blues woes were compounded by a tough 2-0 defeat by Manchester City last weekend.
However, David Moyles’ charges will be boosted by the return to fitness of midfielder Tim Cahil who has recovered from a heavily bruised shin.
The Australia international was injured following a challenge by Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany in the 2-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium last weekend.
Following a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Tottenham two weeks ago, Liverpool will be aiming to build on a confidence restoring victory against Wolves last Saturday.
They have been further boosted by the return of captain Steven Gerrard who played sixteen minutes of his side’s 2-1 Carling Cup victory over Brighton.
The skipper was a welcome addition to the squad after being sidelined for six months due to a groin injury that required surgery.
Gerrard’s last appearance before Wednesday’s game was in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield on 6 March 2011.
While Liverpool boss Kenny Daglish has expressed his delight at the return of Gerrard, the 31-year-old is expected to continue his comeback on the bench at Goodison Park as he eases his way back to full fitness.
Attacking weapon, Luis Suarez, will be hoping to make his mark on his first Merseyside derby, while newcomer’s such as Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique, Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Sebastian Coates could also make their derby debuts for Liverpool.
In contrast, Tim Howard hopes Everton’s experience in Merseyside derbies will prove pivotal in Saturday’s showdown with Liverpool at Goodison Park.
The American goalkeeper is preparing to play in his 13th game against the Reds and is just one of a host of battle-hardened Blues in David Moyes’ squad.
Everton will approach this weekend’s 216th derby with confidence following last year’s 2-0 victory over their red rivals at Goodison, while the return fixture at Anfield ended in a 2-2 draw.
However, Everton have won just one of the last nine Merseyside derbies in the Premier League.
Despite recent poor form, Everton have enjoyed a respectable home record this season and have only lost one of their last 14 Premier League games at Goodison Park.
Defender Phil Jagielka has warned that there will be no repeat of the dour, defensive tactics deployed to stifle Manchester City.
“Against City it was more us looking for a draw and maybe nicking a goal,” said Jagielka. “We will be trying our best to get three points against Liverpool. It is a good game for us to have after the City defeat.
“There won’t need to be a reaction for the Liverpool game. At home we have been doing oK. We changed things around a little bit for the City game, so hopefully we can go back to the way we have been for the Liverpool game and put up a performance and try to get a win.
Liverpool meanwhile, have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven Premier League away matches.
Despite currently sitting above Everton in the Premier League Table, Liverpool midfielder Luas is aware of the challenge facing them on Saturday.
“It’s an important game away from home. Everton have lost a few good players in the summer but they have a really good squad”, believes Lucas.
“Derbies are always difficult and we’ll see everyone talking about the game. We just have to prepare well and try to get the three points.”
The Merseyside derby has a history of being a heated encounter; there have been 19 red cards in this fixture, more than in any other match up in Premier League history, 10 of those coming in the last 13 meetings.
Kenny Dalglish will be relishing the thought of this weekend’s local derby as the last time that the reds legend managed a Liverpool side at Goodison Park was that enthralling 4-4 FA Cup draw back in 1991.
The game will kick off at 12.45pm on Saturday with Liverpool currently lying in fifth place on the Barclay’s Premier League Table while Everton are in eleventh place, with a game in hand.