Here’s a little teaser for you as we continue to build up to the latest edition of the Merseyside derby which pits Everton against Liverpool at Goodison Park.
The Premier League is back in action this weekend and what better way to usher in the non-stop action than the Merseyside derby, the 220th edition of to be exact, between two sleeping giants of the English game, Liverpool and Everton!
Which club has the better players? Which players would make it into the opposing starting XI? Here’s my answer.
Bear in mind that players who are injured or otherwise unavailable have been left out here as well, so the likes of Jose Enrique, who has succumbed to a long-term knee injury will not feature.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Despite the Liverpool stopper keeping three fewer clean sheets than his Everton counterpart Tim Howard this season, the Belgian makes more saves per game and the lack of clean sheets is not his fault to be honest.
He still remains an excellent shot-stopper and his lightning-quick reflexes get him into my starting XI any day.
Defence: Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson
An Everton defence that has kept no fewer than six clean sheets in 11 league games was always going to feature heavily in my lineup, with three of the Toffees’ back line making the cut.
England’s left-back Leighton Baines has continued to impress for club and country this season, and his ability from set-pieces, superior technique and crossing ability get him in ahead of Liverpool loan signing Aly Cissokho.
The central defensive partnership of Distin and Jagielka has been rock-solid for Everton and no one would want to break up one of the meanest defences in the league so they both feature.
Glen Johnson’s greater experience and his greater defensive contribution gets him in ahead of Everton’s Seamus Coleman.
Midfield: Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho
This was definitely the most difficult part of this squad, especially with regards to whether to go with Gareth Barry or Lucas Leiva.
Lucas does a fantastic job in the role he plays for an otherwise very dynamic Liverpool midfield; doing his part to help Brendan Rodgers’ side maintain its shape and providing adequate protection for his back four, not to forget his tough tackling to break up play as well.
But Barry in the end is a little more creative for a defensive midfielder, and the former England international has an eye for a pass as well, he keeps things ticking in the engine room for the Toffees.
It’s a bit of a risk no doubt, but one I’m willing to take for the sake of beautiful football. Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard could not be left out, his passing range and ability on the ball will augur well for this team.
I have Brazilian Coutinho playing in the hole just ahead of my ageing defensive midfield duo, and I’ve picked him over Ross Barkley because he is technically superior and more exposed to the game than the England U-21 star.
Forwards: Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, Romelu Lukaku
I’ll definitely get some stick for breaking up the terrifying twosome that is SAS, but for Everton’s loanee Lukaku it’s definitely worth it.
I believe his power and physique add a new dimension to SAS, and will give them and the team someone to bounce the ball off. Not to mean that that is all there is to the Belgian’s game however, far from it.
Lukaku is deceptively quick, and his clinical finishing is hard to overlook. The league’s current top scorers, Sturridge and Suarez need no justification whatsoever. With them cutting in from the flanks it would allow room for Johnson and Baines to overlap on the flanks any time they’re on the ball, giving me greater balance going forward too.
That’s my combined XI, post yours in the box below?
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