Monday 19th December 20.00 GMT
Those of us lucky enough to have satellite tv can’t help but have noticed the jaunty honorific bestowed upon this most celebrated of derbies. These teams have been locked in local combat since the season of 1894/1895 – ah, I remember it well – but not until this fateful year of our lord has it felt as magisterial, now that we can all rightly refer to it as Mersey Monday. Truly, we live in a golden age, watered with profound insight and fed by munificent morsels of manna. What a time to be alive.
Never saw it coming
Everton fans might concur with that sentiment following their faith-restoring victory over Arsenal during the week. Very few (including this column) saw that coming based on form alone but the Toffees put up one hell of a fight and ran out deserved winners, the roar of their home crowd pushing them ever on during the second half. They needed that result badly as it arrested a slide which had seen them win only once in their previous 11 games. It also gave them the confidence they require to properly stand up to their age-old adversary, Liverpool.
Another well-timed turn
Much like their hosts, the visitors midweek win gave them a much-needed shot of self-belief following two poor results which saw them fall six points behind league-leading Chelsea. Three goals scored and a clean sheet kept does wonders for the self-esteem and with Simon Mignolet re-installed between the sticks at the expense of the slightly more calamitous Loris Karius, they appeared a touch more assured at the back, albeit against a weak enough Middlesbrough attack.
Stepping up but not literally
But that is to sell their attacking intent and delivery short as they buzzed and whirred to great effect with no player being quite as deadly in that regard as Adam Lallana. The vertically-averse technician scored two and assisted the other in the 3-0 win and his continued good form is all the more vital in the continued absence of Phillipe Coutinho.
Norms be damned
On the face of it, you’d have to say that Liverpool are the stronger of the two and should be able to claim all three points. After all, it’s now over six years since Everton last registered a win over them. However, this being a derby, anything can happen. Well no, of course not exactly ‘anything’ can happen but due to the feistiness of these encounters, red cards and handbags stand a greater chance of showing up than in your average common-or-garden encounter and after their last match against Arsenal, you’d have to say that Everton are in good position to tap into that emotional groundswell.
Coming together at 99.9999999% the speed of light
Liverpool are without that great beating heart of the pitch, Steven Gerard, but Jordan Henderson has matured as both a player and leader and will do his best to fill that role. He’ll be ably backed by his maestro on the touchline as these are the vein of games that Jurgen Klopp lives for – passion, intensity, earth-trembling noise. Given everything that’s at stake, this match all has the elements of a high-speed proton collision in the LHC. But with people instead of sub-atomic particles, you understand.
In the world of bookmakers, this match is an easy one to call as they have Liverpool at slightly less than evens to win whereas they don’t give Everton much of a chance with prices of slightly better than 3/1 to be found across the market. Between those two results, this column would edge toward the Liverpool win but we get the feeling that a draw might be the more likely outcome. The best price there is 11/4 and comes by way of Bet365.