The Merseyside derby is always a great occasion for the city of Liverpool but it simply hasn’t generated anywhere near the same level of excitement on a national scale in recent years.
In contrast to Manchester United vs Manchester City or Arsenal vs Tottenham, there’s a predictability about Everton vs Liverpool – the Toffees haven’t tasted victory over the Reds for a decade now.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson suggested last season that playing Everton is just another means to achieving an end goal – nothing more, nothing less.
Before Liverpool’s 5-2 win at Anfield last December, he said: “It comes down to focus and what is important. At the end of the day, it’s another game that we want three points from.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has previously suggested the Merseyside derby is useful in showing the rest of the country just how good football is in those parts rather that the two sides being at each other’s throats for the right to claim the local bragging rights.
However, Liverpool’s trip to Everton on Saturday, a match you can listen to LIVE on talkSPORT at 12:30pm, has a very different feel to it.
The Reds won the title last season, while the Toffees are currently top of the Premier League. The rest of England certainly knows that football in Merseyside is alive and kicking.
Jurgen Klopp has even talked about Everton’s title chances thanks to their excellent start to the season and they’re likely to stay above Liverpool whatever happens.
They would need to lose by four goals or more for Liverpool to leapfrog them. But despite this, it’s a win Everton need far more.
For the last five years, Liverpool have had a top manager in Jurgen Klopp and he’s made them a top team. However, they are vulnerable right now, having conceded SEVEN in their last outing.
Now Everton have a top manager in Carlo Ancelotti. And the former AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich boss is building something promising in his first full season at Goodison Park.
He’s strengthened the team’s spine hugely, signing centre-back Ben Godfrey, who has been tipped as a ‘future England captain’. The former Norwich man could make his bow against Liverpool.
Meanwhile, steel has been added to their midfield with Abdoulaye Doucoure and former Napoli star Allan, already averaging a monster four successful tackles per game, also arriving.
But their most impressive summer acquisition so far has been James Rodriguez. The Colombian has adapted to the Premier League well, chipping in with three goals and two assists.
Rodriguez has added a new dimension to Everton’s attack, with an average of three key passes per game, according to WhoScored. It was creation they craved and he’s providing it.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been the biggest beneficiary of Rodriguez’s arrival, scoring nine goals in six appearances in all competitions.
The England international is the top scorer for a player in the top five European leagues so far this term and will be licking his lips at the prospect of going up against a shaky Liverpool defence.
And if he’s not in-form then Richarlison can certainly cause problems, the Toffees now have the depth they lacked.
Everton are the form side going into it. They’ve won all four league matches and boast a better goals for, goals against and thus goal difference than the reigning champions.
Nevertheless, Everton will still go into this derby feeling like they’re in Liverpool’s shadow. You only have to look at the results over the last decade to see there has been some kind of psychological barrier for Everton players.
But this looks like a new Everton under Ancelotti – one that looks capable of writing their own history and breaking the barriers that have held previous Everton sides back.
A failure to get the three points will maintain the Merseyside status quo. You can forget about Everton being title contenders if they’re not even the best team in Liverpool.
Win, though, and the Toffees might be even more of a threat than many realised. Smart transfer business, excellent coaching, and some fine form has got the Premier League on alert.
Everton might just be on the cusp of something special.
You can hear Everton v Liverpool live and exclusive on talkSPORT this Saturday at 12:30pm