With the onset of the 2nd international break this season, the focus of most Premier League fans is on the set of fixtures that are gonna come after the break which will have more stakes as it will represent a more important part of the season coming up. While Everton and Liverpool have always been on the opposite spectrum of the table for close to 2 decades now, the atmosphere around the Merseyside derby is never dull. While Jurgen Klopp aims to keep the Reds in the run for the title hunt sitting in the 4th place 3 points behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur, Everton are 3 points above the relegation places, thanks to an important 3-0 victory against Bournemouth.
With this article, we will aim to explore some of the fundamental tactical matchups, some records and statistics leading to the derby.
Liverpool Tactical ideas:
With Curtis Jones suspended and Mac Allister in doubt to make it in time, will this be Gravenberch’s time to shine ??
Pic 1, 2, 3: Gravenberch’s role in the Europa League game against Union St. Galloise
Gravenberch’s start again Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Europa League provided the required turning point to get his Liverpool career going as a great performance from him coupled with a goal convinced Klopp to slowly integrate him into the more important dynamics for Liverpool. His dynamics as a left-sided 8 that could participate in phase 1 buildup and also as a wide combination option (like in pic 3) is an asset that will yield well for Liverpool.
What can Liverpool learn from the West Ham game
Pics 4, 5, 6: Liverpool’s usage of Jones and Gomez against West Ham and their settled defensive structure
While no 2 teams are identical as such, the way West Ham usually set up and their penchant for pressing recently is in many ways reminiscent of how Everton have evolved this season (when we get to the Everton section this will be much clear). Jurgen Klopp in that game used Joe Gomez as an inverted fullback or as a stopper that could either step in from the centre or invert from the right-back position. This required Curtis Jones to drop wide to support (pics 1 and 2) to support buildup or provide wide area support in case of defensive transitions.
Do notice West Ham’s press from a starting shape of 4-4-2 (pic 1) did prove to be an obstacle, which is why Jones dropping wide to disrupt the press became an idea in the 1st place. It’s also notable that West Ham’s penchant for using Paqueta in a free role, much akin to Dyche’s usage of Doucoure (who’s much more refined and experienced in that sense) meant Klopp’s usage of a 4-1-4-1 formation in settled defensive structure (pic 6) that could have a free man between lines track movements.
Everton Tactical Ideas:
Hypothesis of a Beto-Calvert Lewin Partnership and the advantage of lesser stars away for International break
Vid 1: How a Possible Beto-Calvert Lewin can work with Danjuma as a wildcard
With Beto, Calvert Lewin, Mcneil, Harrison and Danjuma all not away for the International break, Sean Dyche can be happy with the fact that highly important players of his squad would be fresh and available for the derby showdown.
A possible setup involving the combination of Beto and Calvert Lewin can be explained by the video above: In it, we can see a 4-3-1-2 shape that gives 4 lines of defense which can have Danjuma play a free role who can drift wide while one of the 2 strikers: Preferable Beto could use his physicality against Fullbacks and lay off for Calvert lewin or the midfield runners like Doucoure. It can be used to beat a 4-4-2 pressing shape, something Liverpool typically uses and yields results.
Here the big thing would be whether it’s better to use Onana as the lone 6 or have Onana and Garner operate in a Box midfield alongside Danjuma and Doucoure up top, a sort of 4-2-2-2 that will focus more on central overloads against a Liverpool midfield that’s showes signs to get physically dominated.
The Statistical Outlook:
What does numbers and visualizations tell about either side
It is perhaps the most interesting and significant fact that Liverpool and Everton have similar numbers and in terms of non-penalty expected goals, Everton actually exceeds their neighbours although the margin is slight. But the fact they have a better xGA (Expected Goals against) is even more impressive and perhaps for the 1st time in a really long time, Everton atleast wrt numbers solely aren’t the underdogs going into this game and this is a very important fact that the Reds need to consider.
The 2 top scorers for the teams, Mo Salah and Doucoure are the only factors you could find on opposite sides as both have been the beneficiaries of using physical strikers like Nunez, Beto or Calvert Lewin to get into box and chip goals albeit Mo Salah’s season as an able creator is something that goes under the radar.
History between Klopp and Dyche
Klopp and Dyche have plenty of history and they are no strangers to meeting at this level regularly. While their meetings largely came in a less intense rivalry when Dyche was the long-time coach of Burnley and Liverpool were at the peak of their game, the stakes are completely different now as they are now Merseyside neighbours.
Klopp though obviously has the upper hand winning 9 times and a chance to make it 10 wins against Dyche while the Toffees coach will look to improve the record, given the significance is now greater when they meet.
Can this game be a season-defining one??
The Merseyside derby is always of significant importance but also the fact would be that given these 2 sides always are on the opposite spectrums of the table, victory especially for Everton counts as a big deal as Liverpool have always been the Big 6 threat. This season though, with Klopp chasing a quick way back to playing UCL football and keeping a title race dream alive, they definitely want to get a victory keeping their ambitions in mind for the long run.
For Sean Dyche and his men, a victory will help them climb the table and stay away from the bottom 3 zone, aiming to avoid the relegation dogfight that’s always entailed them in the past few years.