Liverpool make the short trip to Goodison Park to face their Merseyside rivals, Everton. The two teams are separated in location only by Stanley Park. However, on the pitch, they are poles apart. The Reds are flying high in the league, sitting in third place and are currently in superb form.
For Everton it has rather sombre viewing. The team has been dismantled by injuries and there is growing pressure surrounding Rafael Benitez’s job. A heavy defeat against his former team could see him as the next Premier League manager to get sacked.
Many Liverpool fans will put this down as the game that ruined their season last year. The Reds draw 2-2 with Everton at Goodison. The game itself was fierce but Liverpool suffered more than just the dropped points. Virgil van Dijk suffered his season-ending injury at the hands of Jordan Pickford and Thiago Alcantara also suffered a calf injury that led to him missing the following 10 league games.
To also be denied a winning goal due to a dreadful VAR decision, it is no surprise that the Reds will be seeking revenge in this game.
If there is ever an opportunity to embarrass their rivals, there will be no better than on Wednesday night.
Form of both sides
Jurgen Klopp’s side enter this game in impeccable form. Since the international break, Liverpool have won all three of their games. They have beaten Arsenal and Southampton 4-0 and also beat Porto in the Champions League 2-0.
The return of Thiago and Fabinho in midfield have made a massive difference to the shape of the Reds. Earlier in the season, they were conceding a lot of chances and thus conceding goals. This was due to the midfield being too open. However, with Thiago and Fabinho returning, Liverpool look more compact.
They are also scoring goals for fun at the moment, averaging three goals a game. If Liverpool score two goals against Everton, they will set an English football record of 18 games in a row scoring two or more in a game.
This speaks volumes for how impressive they have been upfront. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane attain the headlines for this, but others deserve credit too. Diogo Jota is the league's joint-third highest goal scorer, level with Mane on seven goals. He too has looked so sharp in front of goal and looks like bagging in every game he plays.
Liverpool also have goals in midfield, with Thiago scoring in his last two games. Seeing other players chipping in with goals has massively helped Liverpool push for high score lines.
As for Everton, it is turning into another tough season for them. They currently sit in 14th place in the league and have not won since 25th September. Injuries in key positions have made it very difficult for them to compete, but regardless of that, they are massively underperforming.
The faithful Everton fans are becoming increasingly frustrated with the performances and results; should they get outplayed in this game, the atmosphere inside Goodison Park could become toxic.
Everton also have a tough run of games coming up, playing Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City in December. Should the performances continue to be as bad as they have been, they could very easily find themselves in a relegation scrap.
Jurgen Klopp reported no fresh injuries ahead of this game and will have a decent squad to choose from.
Klopp also offered some positive news regarding Joe Gomez and Naby Keita. He reported that both are making good progress with their injuries and could be back to full training from next week. Ahead of the busy Christmas schedule, this will be welcome news for the Reds.
Must-win at Goodison
Liverpool must be careful to not play to the occasion of this being a derby. There is a massive gulf in class separating the two sides. Liverpool must play their own game and outplay the Blues.
Kopp’s record at Goodison is not particularly impressive. His side have drawn the last four league games at Goodison Park, and only won there once under Klopp’s reign.
This game offers a great opportunity to see his side beat their rivals convincingly away from home and continue their great league form. For Liverpool’s title aspirations, it is a game they cannot afford to lose. Chelsea and Manchester City play Watford and Aston Villa. These are two games that Liverpool have to presume they will win.
For the Reds, it is very important that they do the same and continue their fine form.