When Jurgen Klopp first took charge of Liverpool in October, one fixture he was likely relishing was the Merseyside derby against Everton.
The game is famous across the globe and known as a ferocious affair that rarely fails to live up to expectation.
Klopp enjoys the thrill of management and the emotions that surround it. Across the calendar year, there are not many games bigger than when Liverpool lock horns with the Blues.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Article continues below
The German is already accustomed to being involved in heated battles with local rivals. He stewarded Borussia Dortmund to six Ruhr derby victories against FC Schalke between 2008-2015 and it was always a game he also looked forward to.
This time around, the Merseyside derby is a fixture that will no zero effect on the league table.
Article continues below
Both teams look set to finish below where they hoped for at the start of the season, especially Everton, who sit in the bottom half of the Premier League.
However, the pair still have their parts to play in cup competitions and, based on the way Klopp and Roberto Martinez’s teams lined up against Bournemouth and Southampton respectively at the weekend, are pushing for a piece of silverware.
Nonetheless, although the match lacks importance on a larger scale, it still is a game that matters to both sets of supporters and gives them bragging rights across the city.
Klopp made ten changes from Liverpool’s historic comeback against Dortmund at Bournemouth on Sunday and handed Premier League debuts to youngsters Danny Ward and Connor Randall.
Although there may be some temptation to wrap his core players in cotton wool until the Reds meet Villarreal next Thursday in the Europa League semi-final, it’s likely that he wants to break his Merseyside derby duck at the first time of asking and will probably recall several of his starlets.
Martinez is under a significant amount of pressure following a string of poor results in the Premier League. He’ll want to gain momentum heading into Everton’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United this weekend and could also field a strong side.
Goalkeeper – Simon Mignolet
Ward’s performance against the Cherries at the weekend showed Simon Mignolet that he may have some serious competition on his hands at Anfield.
The Welshman previously enjoyed a fruitful period on loan at Aberdeen during the first half of the season and made a number of solid saves to help Liverpool return from the south coast with all three points.
Mignolet has never had anyone pressure him for his place since moving from Sunderland in 2013 but he’ll now have to be looking over his shoulder constantly.
The Belgium international had a superb game against Dortmund last week, despite conceding three goals, and made two stunning stops when the German outfit were 2-0 up to keep his side in the game.
It’ll be his job to thwart his in-form compatriot Romelu Lukaku – if he starts – on Wednesday evening. Lukaku has a good record against Liverpool but Mignolet will be hoping to dent that.
Right back – Jon Flanagan
It was when the Reds drew 3-3 in a thriller with Everton at Goodison Park in 2013 when Jon Flanagan thrust himself onto the main stage.
Having grown up a boyhood Liverpool fan, there was a fire raging in his belly that day and his performance was what every fan wants to see in this fixture. It was fuelled by passion and desire and he performed well beyond his age.
Klopp will likely recognise the importance of having a local talent in the team for this game and it should see Flanagan return.
Centre back – Dejan Lovren
After a shaky first season at Liverpool, Dejan Lovren has started to prove why Liverpool paid £20 million for his services.
The Croatia international has enjoyed a new lease of life since Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers and is playing with plenty of confidence. He’s more self-assured and decisive in the heart of the back-four and is improving after every game.
Lovren was crowned the hero of what was an emphatic night against Dortmund, heading home in the dying stages to send Liverpool through. A clean sheet against Everton will only enhance his relationship with Kopites.
Centre back – Mamadou Sakho
Lov-Sak is the latest chant from the Klopp following a successful centre-back partnership being formed by Lovren and Mamadou Sakho.
The two have developed their relationship over the past few months and have a real understanding for one another’s game.
Sakho plays with all heart and he looks almost certain to get into a physical battle with Lukaku throughout.
Left back – Nathaniel Clyne
Alberto Moreno still has flaws defensively and Martinez could try and expose those by deploying Gerard Deulfoeu on the Toffees’ right-flank.
Instead of Moreno being menaced all night, Klopp could deploy Nathaniel Clyne on the left-hand side of defence.
He had a game to forget against Dortmund after being caught day-dreaming for both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus’ goals.
However, the England international has been solid for the most part since signing from Southampton last summer. Although he has ability going forward, his defensive duties come first and he proves a difficult defender for wingers to get past.
Centre midfield – Joe Allen
Joe Allen could have easily left Liverpool in the January transfer window and not many Kopites would not have complained.
Three months later, the former Swansea international has proved his stock to his manager and has become an unsung hero at Anfield.
Klopp brought him on when Liverpool were 3-1 down against BVB and Allen changed the game completely. His composure on the ball and relentless pressing helped his side gain the upper hand and he continued his solid form with a bold display against Bournemouth.
Centre midfield – James Milner
The former Manchester City midfield has enjoyed a fine maiden season at Liverpool.
He’s set to carry the armband for the rest of the campaign in the absence of Jordan Henderson and looks a worthy deputy.
Milner’s inch-perfect cross laid Lovren on a plate against Dortmund and his attacking presence has been a pleasant surprise for the Reds this term.
He’ll likely be inspired by the noise of Anfield once again on Wednesday evening and will be willing to run himself ragged, as usual, for his side.
Left wing – Sheyi Ojo
The Reds have a number of youngsters who've been highly impressive throughout this season when given the nod.
Sheyi Ojo is arguably the pick of the bunch and has started Liverpool’s last two Premier League matches.
The England youth international was recalled following a successful loan spell at Wolves in the first half of the season and has adapted gamely to the top flight. He set up Daniel Sturridge superbly in Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Stoke City and was again impressive against Eddie Howe’s side.
Everton look to have a defensive crisis with Seamus Coleman limping off against Southampton on Saturday and this looks an ideal match for Ojo to continue his momentum.
Right wing midfield - Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino was the lone survivor from the team who lined-up against Dortmund to start against Bournemouth.
The Brazilian, like so many others, has improved leaps and bounds under Klopp. Firmino has always worked his socks off but he’s began to become more confident on the ball and gel with his team-mates much more fluently.
The former Hoffenheim playmaker gave Liverpool their opener in Sunday’s 2-1 win and will be hoping to reach double figures for the season in the top flight with a goal against Everton.
Attacking midfield – Philippe Coutinho
Klopp’s main protagonist must be licking his lips at the prospect of meeting a weakened Blues back-four at Anfield.
Philippe Coutinho’s attacking abilities continue to advance on a weekly basis and his bending goal against Dortmund started the epic comeback.
The little magician has the ability to create something out of nothing. His subtle drop of the shoulder fools plenty of defenders and he can bend a ball from outside of the box, which will keep Joel Robles on his toes.
Coutinho last scored against Everton in the 3-3 thriller at Goodison Park two seasons ago.
Striker – Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge issued a reminder to his manager against Bournemouth.
Divock Origi’s recent form has been eccentric with the Belgian starting both legs against Dortmund, scoring in both, as well as grabbing a brace coming off the bench against Stoke.
Instead of sulking, Sturridge has done what exactly what his manager would have wanted him to do and responded by playing a major part in claiming all three points against Bournemouth.
His intuitive back heel forced a good save out of Artur Boruc but Firmino was on hand to tap home to give the Reds the lead in the first half.
Moments before the break, Sturridge turned from provider to goalscorer to double his side's lead. He leapt like a salmon to meet Jordon Ibe’s free-kick and steered his header beyond the stretching Boruc.
With Liverpool meeting Villarreal next week, Sturridge will be looking for another big performance. He’s netted six times against Everton and another to his record could see him retain his place in Spain.