2 min: Fabinho snaffles the ball in the centre circle and rolls an immediate pass down the middle. Salah can’t bring the ball with him, allowing Keane to step in.
35 seconds: The first big collision of the afternoon as Van Dijk stands firm, in Rodriguez’s road. A garden variety foul, but one felt by the brilliant Colombian.
And we’re off! Liverpool get the ball rolling, but only after all players take a knee. No room for racism. Black lives matter. The visitors are kicking towards the Gwladys Street end in the first half.
The teams are out! Everton are playing in … ach, you know the score here. What we’d give for Goodison to be bouncing now … but you know all that, too. This promises to be a proper match, though, hopefully an end to that sequence of three goalless draws in Goodison derbies. Everton troop out of the tunnel, while Liverpool make it to the field from the temporary hut in the car park. “You want to know the simple truth?” asks Philip Ritson. “Ancelotti has the measure of Klopp and Everton are in better form than Liverpool. This Liverpool supporter is afraid! Very afraid!”
Manager of the month Carlo Ancelotti speaks! “We are sure that we are going to play the best team in the Premier League … honestly we didn’t expect what happened in their last game … it is an honour for us to play against them … it’s a derby, an important game, and I expect a good game from us … it’s a good test … it is exciting, the only thing that we miss is the crowd, but we have to respect the code and protocols … I hope to give happiness to our fans from home … we started well, but we want to continue.” Halfway through the interview he was squirted from below by a rogue sprinkler, and reacted to a brief splash of discomfort with grace, humour and charm, not missing a beat. One of the game’s smoothest operators. Two genuinely likeable managers facing each other this lunchtime.
Jurgen Klopp is asked by BT Sport’s Des Kelly if this is the worst sort of fixture to have after a bad defeat. “It’s the game, the only one we’ve got … it’s good, whatever situation you are in, it’s the most special game of the season … on the other side I would have no problem if Everton would be in a bad place having lost the last 12 games in a row! … but it’s exactly how it should be, they are ready, we are ready, it should be a good game … all the changes are significant, that’s why we do them … the line-up is the line-up because we think it’s the right one for this game … we did a lot of things wrong against Villa, but the art is to keep the good things, because they were there, even if nobody remembers them!”
While it’s ten years to the day since Everton’s last win against Liverpool, today’s date also has a more profound significance. It’s five years since the passing of a genuine Goodison legend, the great Howard Kendall, who won the title with his beloved Blues as both player and manager.
Everton make two changes from the side that saw off Brighton 4-2 a fortnight ago. Allan and Andre Gomes take the places of Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Liverpool hand a first Premier League start to Thiago. He’s one of four changes to the team spanked 7-2 by Aston Villa. Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane also come in. They take the places of Joe Gomez, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita and Diogo Jota.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne, Doucoure, Allan, Andre Gomes, Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.
Subs: Delph, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Bernard, Godfrey, Davies, Olsen.
Liverpool: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Subs: Wijnaldum, Milner, Gomez, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Kelleher.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
It’s the tenth anniversary of a most acceptable Merseyside derby for Liverpool. “That was as good as we have played all season, and I have no qualms with the performance whatsoever,” smiled Roy Hodgson. The future looked bright for Roy’s Reds! If you didn’t pay too much attention to the league position: 19 out of 20. Oh Roy.
It was also a good day for Everton, who won the game 2-0 at a canter. Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta scored the goals as chants of “Going down, going down, going down” rang around Goodison Park. However times change, and that’s the last time Everton beat Liverpool in any competition. Since then, it’s been 11 wins and 11 draws for the Reds against their biggest rivals in all competitions, and now they’re champions of England.
BUT! Everton go into this match with a 100 percent record this season, while Liverpool are coming off the back of that 7-2 humiliation. Should Carlo Ancelotti’s impressive side win this lunchtime, they’ll not only be slaking their great derby thirst; they’ll also start the season with five straight wins for the first time since 1938-39, a season they ended as champions. Dominic Calvert-Lewin: the Tommy Lawton de nos jours.
Liverpool, on the other hand, may feel they have a statement to make after their mauling at Villa Park. So this is set up perfectly. A cracker awaits, even if this particular Goodison fixture has a habit of ending in a bore draw. Not this time, surely. Here’s to a classic everyone on Merseyside deserves right now, on account of their currently being grifted by The Man. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm BST.
at 5.03am EDT