The 'Friendly Derby' still is one of footballs most famous clashes. There was nothing more lucrative than the clash in the 1980's when the likes of Ian Rush and Neville Southall were playing for either side.

It was a top of the table clash that never failed to impress and was vital for either side in winning the league.

A dark cloud then loomed over Merseyside. The success was limited within the 1990s for both sides, with just four major trophies won between the pair in the decade. The days of challenging for the title and brushing side opponents were a distant memory as both Merseyside clubs dissolved into mid table sides.

The derby then became a battle for bragging rights for the fans until the next derby. It was the only thing that either fans really had to gloat about when having a pint together due to the drought of trophies.

Even when Liverpool found success again within the 2000s, it was still a matter of bragging rights, especially for the Blue side of the county.

However now we enter Saturday's game and across the 2008 Capital of Culture there is that buzz that was reminiscent of 25 years ago.

Only three points separates second placed Liverpool and sixth place Everton. Both have got off to a flyer this season and are legitimate top four contenders.

Where both sides have excelled this season is having an excellent strike force.

Everton's loan signing Romelu Lukaku is proving to be one of the bargains of this year. The Belgian had netted five times in his seven appearances for the Toffees, and his presence has been felt up and down the Premier League.

At just 20-years-old, he looks like he has been at the top level all of his life, and his development will be one that neutral fans can anticipate with intrigue. 

Liverpool have been ruthless up top this season too. The strike partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez has been one of the highlights of the Premier League this year.

I thought that nobody could top Suarez's hat-rick against West Bromwich Albion, however Sturridge answered with an exquisite chip over 'keeper Boas Myhill from 18 yards out.

Moving back to the derby, Suarez has an excellent record against Everton, having scored three times against his club's greatest rivals.

Both sides have been sound defensively too so far. Liverpool and Everton have equally the best defensive record in the Premier League this season, both conceding just ten times.

Liverpool boast internationals like Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho whilst Everton have the impressive Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman.

Martin Skrtel in particular has been in top form so far. He struggled to get into Brendan Rogers' side in the second half of last season. He was speculated to move to Napoli in the summer, and summer signings Sakho and Kolo Toure only furthered this rumour.

However he worked hard in pre-season to impress his manager. He managed that task and has played every game so far this year, looking decisive at centre back.

I feel that the game will be won within the centre of the park. Although Everton have signed midfielders like Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, they lack the attacking mindset that Marouane Fellini offered before his move to Manchester United.

Liverpool have veteran Steven Gerrard who is always up for this game. Winning the derby means more to him than anyone else playing in the fixture, as the boyhood Liverpool fan grew up in the 1980s were the games meant so much. He'll be first to the ball, hard in the tackle and should have a stormer.

Phillippe Coutinho should also be too much for Everton to handle. His skill on the ball is the best around for me. He chops and turns defenders and his understanding with Suarez and Sturridge is unreal.

Suarez's goal scoring record is too fantastic. He's scored three in four, however he was denied a last minute header in the fixture last year for no reason at all. Along with this, he was the one who created the Leighton Baines own goal too.

The home advantage goes to Everton, who have the League's best home record and have beat Manchester City at Goodison Park this year. However Liverpool should have won here last season and with the form that Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho are in, I can't see Everton holding out for too long.

This will all stem from a super Steven Gerrard performance, cleaning up in the centre of the park and distributing the ball well.

Everton can still challenge for the top four however I see them going six points behind Liverpool come half two on Saturday.

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#Football
#Liverpool
#Everton