Everton - Liverpool: Five things to look out for
Image via The Telegraph

Ahead of the first, hotly anticipated Merseyside derby of the season, here are five things to watch during the game. 

Is Romelu Lukaku back and firing?

The win  against West Bromwich Albion on Monday night showcased both sides of Romelu Lukaku. For the first 45 minutes he could do nothing right and looked a little lost. During the second 45 minutes, he showed the very best of himself.

Lukaku showed the goal that got Everton back into the game, set up Arouna Kone’s equaliser and then scored the winning goal himself. After his first goal, he looked his very best. Defenders could not get near him nor stop him when running at them.

Part of that can be accredited to his teammates who draw players away from him and allow him to operate one on one with a marker, where Lukaku is at his very best.

Can Everton capitalise on Liverpool’s defensive woes?

Liverpool have struggled defensively this season already, shipping nine goals in their last four games, after keeping three clean sheets in their first three games. 

There has been changes at the back for Liverpool due to injuries and a loss of form from a number of their back line. They’ve mainly struggled with the centre back pairings. Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho are either out of form or injured. 

Nathaniel Clyne is yet to rediscover his form at Southampton that earned him, his move to Liverpool.

Alberto Moreno has been in and out of the team and is yet to nail down his spot. Joe Gomez started brightly but was dropped after his performance against Manchester United. 

Can the Toffees slow down Daniel Sturridge?

With Daniel Sturridge back and already firing for Liverpool, the Toffees will have to slow him down. Sturridge has seemingly found a way to score against Everton in his career, scoring for both Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool in wins over the Blues.

Chrisitan Benteke and Roberto Firmino are struggling for fitness and both may miss this fixture so Sturridge, barring injury, should start in this game. Danny Ings may provide a strike partner up top and is another striker Everton will have to plan for. 

Both Sturridge and Ings are not physical players but will chase down lost causes and are both quick to do so. Everton will need to be alert to everything they do and where they are on the pitch. 

Divick Origi is Liverpool’s only other senior striker available so he may be an option off the bench. Origi played against Everton in last season’s Europa League for Lille and struggled to get into both group games. 

Will John Stones’ return mean a new system?

John Stones should be fit enough to return for this game but begs the question, will his return mean Roberto Martinez alters his system? 

Ramiro Funes Mori provided solid cover for the win over West Brom and played well against Reading in the Capital One Cup. During his time at Wigan Athletic, Martinez tried a back three system which worked well until injuries. 

His Wigan back three may not be as talented as the defenders he has at Everton, a back three has been hit and miss when used in the Premier League.

Defenders can get confused whether or not to defend a runner behind them or leave them for a fellow teammate.

Martinez may just opt to drop Funes Mori and replace him with Stones or even drop Tyias Browning and shoehorn Stones in at full back, where he played a few times for Barnsley and Everton’s U21s.

Gerard Deulofeu’s form

Gerard Deulofeu has struggled for game time since returning to Everton this summer but his recent form in the Capital One Cup and then against West Brom likely means he’s going to earn himself much more time on the pitch.

Deulofeu has developed a whole lot since his initial loan at Everton two season ago. Back then he would look to attack the bye line and knock the ball across without looking up. Now, he hugs the touchline with his head up and looking for a player a better position.

He still posses the traits that made him successful the first time round. He can beat a man with ease thanks to his pace and trickery. His awkwardness out wide means that if you make him too tightly, he can skip past you.

Giving Deulofeu more space to cross is also a danger. He set up both of Romelu Lukaku’s goals against West Brom with crosses that defenders didn’t know whether to attack them or leave them for the goalkeeper.