Everton welcome Liverpool to Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime, looking to win their first Merseyside Derby since 2010 - a run of 16 meetings.
Usually, the Merseyside Derby at Goodison can be thrown up as a toss-up with the Blues not normally succumbing to that same Derby Day fear that swallows them whole as soon as they enter Anfield.
However, the 231st edition of the contest has an air of impending doom for Sam Allardyce’s side following the dismantling they suffered at the hands of Manchester City last time out.
Jurgen Klopp’s side dismantled that same Manchester City side during the week in the Champions League and look in the mood to compile more misery on to their Merseyside rivals.
The German boss may have one eye on that return leg against the Citizens that immediately follows Saturday’s clash and could succumb to the seemingly open chance to make some changes.
However, he isn’t usually one to underestimate his opponents and will be looking to continue his perfect record in Merseyside Derby meetings - where he is yet to taste defeat against three different Everton bosses.
The two sides have already met twice this season with both games coming at Anfield.
The first meeting, a Premier League tie, finished 1-1 as Wayne Rooney scored a late second-half penalty to secure Allardyce’s side a point after Mohamed Salah had opened the scoring for the hosts in the first half.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was fouled by Dejan Lovren to give the Blues a spot-kick after they had kept the Reds at bay for the majority of the game.
The sides were then drawn together in the FA Cup third round. James Milner opened the scoring with a first-half penalty before Gylfi Sigurdsson struck back for the Blues in the second-half and looked to have secured a replay.
However, new Reds signing Virgil Van Dijk, on his debut, headed home from a corner with five minutes to play to guide Klopp’s side through to the next round.
Everton were schooled by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side last time out with a number of embarrassing stats coming out at the end of that game.
One thing that was clear to everyone watching was not just the gaping chasm of difference in talent levels between the two sides but the lack of heart and in turn battle of Allardyce’s side.
Despite the extremely difficult challenge in their way, any Everton side of old would have shown more desire to at least keep City at bay for as long as they can. The game itself was a striking resemblance of this campaign on the pitch at Goodison Park.
Whilst a result against their closest rivals on Saturday also looks extremely difficult, the Blues may gain some support back from the terraces if they display some semblance of caring about their in-game output.
A look across Stanley Park
As it’s well documented, Liverpool are flying this season and the midweek Champions League win over Manchester City will only add to their already soaring levels of confidence.
Klopp’s men sit third in the Premier League table but could overtake Manchester United in second if they pick up three points against the Blues.
The Reds haven’t lost since they were beaten by Jose Mourinho’s men at the beginning of March - a run of three games in all competitions.
Their forward three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane has propelled them up the table and they haven’t missed a beat since the departure of Philipe Coutinho to Barcelona.
Klopp’s men do have some nagging injuries and a lack of depth at the heart of defence could affect their end of season run-in but they will almost certainly finish in the top four - securing Champions League football for another campaign with no domestic trophies on offer.
Ashley Williams served the final game of his three-game suspension during the defeat to City last weekend and is available for selection.
Influential midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is available after recovering from a hamstring injury. He underwent a late fitness test prior to last weekend’s defeat but wasn’t cleared to play - he is this weekend.
Klopp’s side will sweat on the availability of Mohamed Salah after he hobbled off during the midweek Champions League win over the Citizens.
The German boss is almost expected to name a ‘weakened’ team with one eye on the second-leg against Pep Guardiola’s side on Tuesday evening.
Joel Matip, Adam Lallana, Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan are all sidelined whilst Emre Can is a major doubt.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Baines, Keane, Jagielka, Gueye, Davies, Rooney, Bolasie, Walcott, Tosun.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Moreno, Masterson, Lovren, Henderson, Woodburn, Wijnaldum, Firmino, Ings, Solanke.
Match Day Stats
- Everton have not lost on April 7th since the 1990-1991 campaign - when they were beaten 4-1 by Crystal Palace at Wembley.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 16 games against Everton - winning 8 and drawing the other 8.
- A defeat would see the Blues slump to their 8th defeat on the run in games shown live on UK Television, a new club record - beating the seven-game run that was set earlier this season.