It’s certainly not been a simple start to life at Everton for Sean Dyche.
After masterminding a superb 1-0 win over league leaders Arsenal last week in his first match in charge of the club, he now faces the prospect of his first ever Merseyside Derby.
Evertonians will need no reminder of their appalling record at Anfield, winning just once in their last 25 visits to their old ground, however the team will undoubtedly feel reinvigorated after last week’s surprise victory and their hosts are still yet to win a league match in 2023.
Regardless, if Dyche manages to pull this one off, talks will already begin of a statue outside the new stadium when it opens!
It seems to be a talking point every single week this campaign but doubts over Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s availability to play have been raised once again.
The forward put in his best performance in 18 months against the Gunners but was taken off on the hour mark, reportedly ‘as a precaution.’
However, Dyche has said in the week that it is ‘touch and go’ whether the 25-year-old will be fit enough to take on the Reds, which opens up the question of who starts upfront if Calvert-Lewin is unable to?
Neal Maupay seems the obvious choice but his inefficiency, particularly in a Dyche system, is there for all to see and so it may be that Ellis Simms is given his first senior start or else the Toffees elect for something different in the form of Demarai Gray.
One to watch – Seamus Coleman
Everton’s skipper seemed to have a new lease of life against Arsenal, winning several tackles in a ferocious but fair manner and supporting Alex Iwobi down the right flank.
The derby will be his 400th competitive match for the Blues and as one of only a few players within the squad who knows what it takes to win against Liverpool, he will be keen to rally the troops and help drag them over the line.
It wouldn’t be the first time he marked a personal milestone with a derby victory.
When the Toffees triumphed over their arch rivals in February 2021, Coleman was making his 300th start and the Irishman will be hoping for a similar story today.
One to watch – Cody Gakpo
Cody Gakpo is Liverpool’s most recent acquisition, signed off the back of an outstanding World Cup with the Netherlands, but has so far failed to hit the ground running at Anfield.
In six appearances so far the Reds, he hasn’t registered a single goal or an assist.
But Jurgen Klopp continues to stick by the 23-year-old and he is expected to start his first Merseyside Derby.
Many Everton fans will already know how this script tends to play out.
It’s undoubtedly the fixture every Evertonian wants to win the most and on top of it being only Dyche’s second game at the helm, that desire is even greater.
The 51-year-old pulled off several decent results at Anfield during his time as Burnley manager, even breaking their 68-match unbeaten home run in the league with a 1-0 win in January 2021.
Another masterstroke like that would see Everton fans celebrate one of their most memorable triumphs in years.