Merseyside Derby

Liverpool’s home form means Everton could finally break their duck at Anfield

Liverpool fans will tell you that three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Everton failing to win the Merseyside Derby at Anfield. It’s 22 years since Kevin Campbell’s strike gave the Toffees all three points against Liverpool in 1999, and since then it’s often been a tale of woe for Everton in away fixtures against their city rivals.

Indeed, Everton haven’t recorded a win in the Merseyside Derby – home or away – since October 2010, when Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta scored to give them a 2-0 win over Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool at Goodison Park. In some ways that feels like a lifetime ago, as the decade since has seen the red half of Merseyside triumph on most occasions, with some draws thrown in, but crucially not a single Everton win.

There is an intense longing among Everton supporters to see this trend reversed, and Sunday’s fixture between the two teams could offer a good opportunity to end both records – for the Toffees to win in a Merseyside Derby, and to do so at Anfield would be a major relief for Everton fans.

Given that Liverpool have lost their last three Premier League matches at home, you can forgive Carlo Ancelotti for being in confident mood ahead of the fixture. Everton have been enjoying a stellar season, propelled by the goals of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the experience and nous of Ancelotti at the helm. Liverpool and Everton are sixth and seventh respectively in the Premier League table, although the latter have a game in hand which could see them rise above their local rivals.

It’s no real surprise that Liverpool are favourites to win the match according to the latest Premier League odds. The aforementioned head-to-head record between the two teams is something that can’t be ignored, and that kind of run will always dictate the betting market. But all things must come to an end, and given Liverpool’s league struggles of late, Everton will certainly fancy their chances of making it four Anfield defeats in a row for Jürgen Klopp’s side.

However, Liverpool’s 2-0 win over RB Leipzig on Tuesday in the Champions League will have boosted their confidence greatly ahead of the Merseyside Derby, and will have cast off the ill feeling which surrounded the club after three successive defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester City and Leicester City. It was a real morale-booster, and the performances of front three Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah represented a step in the right direction for Liverpool.

The win was enough to just plant that extra seed of doubt in Everton’s head as they make the short trip across Stanley Park to Anfield. Plenty of times in the past, Everton have been beaten before they even stepped onto the pitch at Anfield, and there have been far too many humiliations at the hand of Liverpool there in recent years. The challenge facing Ancelotti is to ensure his team have the confidence to stand up to Liverpool and bring the fight.

Merseyside Derbies in the past were defined by flying tackles, fisticuffs and hard-hitting challenges, but recently some of that edge has been lost, and Liverpool’s superior footballing talent has usually shone through as a result. Perhaps if Everton can demonstrate the same kind of passion that past sides took to Anfield, they might just be able to celebrate a Merseyside Derby away success. If they can achieve that, who knows where their season might go from there.