Well, didn’t this one come around fast. I’m sure plenty of you are gagging for it, can’t wait, counting down the days etc. If you are, I am happy for you. I have been you. I envy you. But this time around, I am not you. Well at least until 10 minutes before kick-off when I tell everyone around me, ‘we will do these today’. Still waiting.
On Friday night Everton lock horns again with their city rivals Liverpool at Anfield, just four weeks after our last meeting in which Everton come away with a point in a 1-1 draw courtesy of a Wayne Rooney penalty. It was a good result at the time but a lot has happened since then. Liverpool haven’t tasted defeat since 22nd October 2017, following a 4-1 hammering by Spurs. Everton haven’t tasted defeat since New years day. After a run of eight games undefeated and just two goals conceded, it seems the wheels of the Allardyce gravy train are already beginning to fall off. The previous four games give you a snapshot of Everton’s current woes. Four is in fact the magic number right now. It’s now no win in four, one goal scored, four goals conceded and perhaps most alarmingly of all, just the four shots on target! To put that into perspective for you, we have faced 24 shots on our goal in those same four games.
The same has therefore led me down a familiar path of dejectedness. A rampant Reds boded by a last-gasp winner away at Burnley facing a depleted Everton on the back of two defeats, it’s an all too familiar narrative that always throws up the same conclusion. On paper, the derby is meant to be the pick of the fixtures every year, in reality we can’t wait to get it over with. It’s enough to resent Everton never mind Liverpool. The fact this year has thrown up a further derby game in the FA cup serves as nothing more than a cruel twist of fate.
After all, it’s exhausting having to deal with them twice a season and its galling having to share a city with them. The chances are even if you aren’t within Merseyside, you’ll still encounter at least one of them wherever you are. If you walked through Easter Island, or the Tianzi mountains, you’d still come across some twat wearing a Liverpool shirt from 2009 with Gerrard’s name looking wearisome on the back. Their self-entitlement knows no boundaries. All of us are guilty at looking through decisions and constructing opinions wearing our Blue tinted glasses, however at Anfield, they opt for Red coloured blinkers. This is none more apparent than these previous four weeks in which they have been crying over a conceded penalty, just their second at home in the Derby in 80 years! They’ve been working themselves into a tear-filled frenzy, obsessing over the same camera angle that suited their narrative. Despite the penalty being awarded by the referee, despite every pundit up and down the country calling it a penalty, despite an independent panel with use of all available technology deeming it a penalty, ask any Red and they will exclaim they’re right and everyone else in wrong. Sadly for them, facts say they are wrong, because the penalty was awarded and Rooney stepped up to silence the Kop.
So onto Friday. The FA cup is our last chance of silverware this season. It’s most likely Liverpool’s too. Although they’re still in the Champions League, there’s no way they could fluke another Champions League this century. There’s 8,000 Evertonians embarking on Anfield. I’m anticipating mayhem. Annie Road will be bouncing. I actually think the Red’s will be bouncing for this one too. The ‘famous Anfield atmosphere’ myth has all but been put to bed, but I do think they’ll fancy this one.
In terms of on the pitch. It’s all about mentality now. Liverpool are a good side. Better man for man than Everton right now. But that player superiority hasn’t stopped a plethora of sides winning at Anfield in the last 19 years. Liverpool fans won’t like it, but Everton need to win this one. The Derby is losing its competitive edge. It’s still a massive game, but Liverpool fans are arrogant, and to be honest they probably have every right to be. Too many Everton sides turn up and buckle. It’s a vicious circle right now of focusing so much on the winless record that the players view winning at Anfield, and even more recently, beating Liverpool all together, as an impossible challenge. Therefore Everton cave under their self-imposed pressure and another winless year is added to the history books. I saw glimpses of this same mentality it in our current side four weeks ago. People blamed Allardyce’s tactics, which I am sure did play a part, but too many looked fearful again. Allardyce’s key to victory will be instilling a mental belief in his side on Friday. Something so managers before him have failed to achieve.
If he’s looking for positives, then perhaps Coutinho’s imminent departure will be one. The ‘fab four’ didn’t survive longer than half a season. Salah looks to be a doubt too having missed Liverpool’s last game against Burnley with a groin strain. Both Salah and Mane have been granted permission to travel to Ghana 24 hours prior to the Derby for an awards night. Any ash clouds in the forecast guys? Van Dijik is eligible but I do wonder whether Klopp would hand him an immediate start in such a big game.
Everton could be bolstered by the return of Gueye, whilst a deal looks to be finally agreed for Cenk Tosun. It’ll be a rush to get the deal though before the cup deadline in order to make him eligible for the Derby and sadly by the time this piece goes out, that decision will have already been made. Therefore:-
(if we got it over the line in time) – Tosun will be a massive signing going into this one. We have been screaming for a target man upfront and whilst I don’t want to heap to much pressure on the lad, his arrival will give a whole boost to the team.
(if we never got it over the line in time) – Fucks sake Everton.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Our time will come. Maybe it will be Friday night, maybe it won’t. But no matter what, fuck Liverpool, win or lose, up the Blues!