Everton resume their premier league campaign this Sunday with the most daunting of fixtures. They face city rivals Liverpool where the reds will be looking to take one closer step to their first league title in over 30 years.
We take a look at some of the biggest talking points as part of our preview for this Sunday’s clash.
An empty Goodison Park
As we’ve seen since the restart of football in England, all premier league games have been played behind closed doors with only the players, club staff and members of the media being allowed in the ground whilst the game is being played.
Many are wondering if the lack of fans will affect the players in what is usually a high-tempered and passionate game for both those on and off the pitch.
However the game will be available to a larger audience as being one of the few games to be aired on Sky’s Freeview channel Pick.
How will Everton’s defence look?
The toffees go into the game on Sunday with only two recognised senior centre-backs in Michael Keane and Mason Holgate. Yerry Mina is expected to miss the clash due to a quadriceps injury. But rumours suggest Everton may be forced to deploy long-serving right back Seamus Coleman in the centre of defence should Holgate or Keane become unavailable.
Everton may also look to the younger players to step up with Jarrad Branthwaite and Ryan Astley both impressing for the under-23 side this season. But Everton do have the luxury of having both Lucas Digne and Leighton Baines available to play left-back tomorrow.
The man in the middle
It was confirmed earlier this month that Mike Dean will referee the Merseyside derby this Sunday. This is Dean’s third Merseyside Derby with his most recent one taking place six months ago which saw Everton hold Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park. Dean produced three yellow cards that day to Tom Davies, Richarlison and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
It could be a busy game for Dean. Statistics prove that the Merseyside Derby produces more sending offs than any other fixture in premier league history.
Can Calvert-Lewin continue his goal-scoring form?
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise forgettable season for the blues. He is the clubs top scorer this season with 13 premier league goals to his name, more than doubling his tally from last season.
But will he be able to continue his goal scoring form from before the fixtures were suspended? Of the premier league’s leading goal scorers this season only Danny Ings has managed to find the net since the restart, with the likes of Jamie Vardy, Pierre Emerick-Aubamayang and Sergio Aguero all failing to score in their games this week.
But Calvert-Lewin faces the league’s best defence this season and it is expected Virgil Van Dijk will partner Joe Gomez in the heart of Liverpool’s back four, proving a stern test for Everton’s number nine.
Can Everton actually win?
Everton fans will want nothing more than to put a big dent in Liverpool’s title ambitions as they did last season with the 0-0 draw at Goodison. But the blues record against their local rivals has been poor in recent years and haven’t beaten Liverpool since 2010, which saw Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta score in a 2-0 victory.
But Liverpool are heavy favourites for the derby once again and are expected to take a huge leap towards the title. Everton’s injury list will also make it difficult for them when it comes to substitutes. Teams are allowed to make five substitutes for the games and with Everton missing six first team players through injury, will be forced to look to the younger players with a few potentially facing the possibility of making their debut in a Merseyside Derby.