Arguably the most highly anticipated Merseyside derby for years takes place this weekend as high-flying Everton welcome Premier League champions Liverpool to Goodison Park.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side sit on top of the table with four wins from their opening four matches, scoring 12 times in the process.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s title defence suffered a major setback as they lost for the first time this season in their last outing, going down 7-2 in a shock humiliation at Aston Villa.
Saturday’s early kick will mark exactly ten years since the Toffees last beat their neighbours, and they will go into the fixture believing there won’t be a better opportunity to end a 22-match winless run against the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have a number of injury worries with first choice keeper Alisson sidelined, while Naby Keita misses out following a positive coronavirus test. Summer signing Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane are back in training following their own respective positive tests but could still miss out.
As such, from the players available and displays so far this season, here is a combined XI ahead of the big match…
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GK – Jordan Pickford – Everton
Hear us out. Yes, the England number one has come under fire for a number of high profile errors so far this season, but nothing he has done compares to the disastrous performance of Adrian at Villa Park.
RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Despite the odd defensive issue, the England full back remains a major threat for Liverpool going forward as shown in his best performance of the season so far against Arsenal.
CB – Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool
The Dutchman has had a relatively poor start to the season given his usual high standards but even on his worst day, it’s virtually impossible to argue against his inclusion.
CB – Yerry Mina – Everton
Everton have conceded five goals in the league so far this season which is two fewer than Liverpool shipped in the horrorshow against Villa. These more assured defensive displays can be partly attributed to the form of Mina, who could prove a danger at both ends of the pitch.
LB – Andrew Robertson – Liverpool
Like his teammate on the opposite side of Liverpool’s defence, Robertson is still to hit his stride but remains a threat contributing to the attack. Scored his first goal of the season in that win over Arsenal from Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
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MF – Fabinho – Liverpool
Before the trip to Aston Villa, the Brazilian midfielder was in fine form for the Reds, particularly in the win at Chelsea, albeit playing out of position in defence. Like the rest of the teammates, there’s little doubt he will be out to prove that shock defeat was a one-off.
MF – Allan – Everton
The summer signing from Napoli was brought in to address Everton’s problem area and has had a transformative impact so far.
AM – James Rodriguez – Everton
Many predicted the Colombian playmaker’s better days might have been behind him but Rodriguez has needed no time to settle in the Premier League. His three goals and two assists so far have largely contributed to Everton’s lofty position.
RW – Richarlison – Everton
As Sadio Mane remains a doubt, the Blues’ Brazilian forward gets the nod after a flying start to the campaign that has seen him form a formidable creative partnership with Rodriguez.
CF – Calvert-Lewin – Everton
The Premier League’s joint top scorer with 6 goals, Calvert-Lewin has developed into a highly effective centre forward both as a poacher and dominant in the air. After adding to his goal tally run for England, the hitman will hope Liverpool will be next on his list of victims.
LW – Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Arguably not even at his best, Salah still has five goals to his name this season and still takes some stopping when he hits his stride. The only player to come away with any credit from the Villa game following two stunning consolation strikes.
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