Liverpool host city rivals Everton tomorrow night in a key game in the race to secure Champions League qualification.
Both sides have been hit by injury crisis, with at least six players injured each team. In any other fixture this amount of injuries could cause the tie to be slow and lethargic, however the Merseyside derby is different and the fiery passion of both sets of supporters will set Anfield alight, in what could be one of the most crucial derbies of the recent era.
It will be a cold winter’s night, and many stars will be on show for both of the clubs; Everton will be watching the duo of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, whilst Liverpool’s weakened defence may have problems dealing with the loan pairing of Romelu Lukaku, and new arrival Lacina Traoré.
Defenders have been falling like flies in recent months for the Reds, with a total of seven defensive based players on the injury list. No one is more important than the Brazilian hard-man Lucas Leiva, who is renowned for putting in fantastic performances in the games that matter most.
In addition, full backs José Enrique and more recently Glen Johnson will be missing for the fixture, meaning Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan, who performed at an outstanding level in the reverse fixture, will be drafted into the starting XI.
For Everton, they have injuries to some of their most creative players, the likes of England youngster Ross Barkley and Barcelona Loanee Gerard Deloufeu, who have together and with the help of their team, helped Roberto Martinez in his first season as the Blues manager to maintain an excellent position in the top half of the Premier League.
Another notable player missing from the game on Tuesday night is defender Séamus Coleman, who has become just as much of an attacking threat as his opposite wing counter-part Leighton Baines, scoring in five games in the league this season - the best tally of his career.
Everton have been able to make moves in this current transfer window, with the acquisition of Republic of Ireland international Aiden McGeady, and the loan signing of AS Monaco striker Lacina Traoré, who is yet to ply his trade in Ligue One after his fresh arrival from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. The six foot eight tall inch Ivorian will want to do more damage to Liverpool after scoring a goal against them in the Europa League in previous years.
The two Merseyside clubs have some intentions of mounting a challenge on the top four places, but Liverpool are the only team who seem to be capable of mounting a serious challenge. Therefore, it is of great importance that Liverpool takes all three points.
At home the Reds have been near enough invincible, with only one Premier League defeat to Southampton earlier in the season. The Anfield fortress will be roaring loud and fuelled by the Kop and because of this; Everton’s tough job becomes an even harder task.
The reverse fixture at Goodison Park in November delivered one of the greatest Merseyside derbies of all time, with a wide-open game ending in a 3-3 draw. Much of the same will be expected of the player when they perform again for the fans at Anfield, and with the defensive injuries both sides have, it is likely that we will see a flurry of goal-mouth action yet again in this historic fixture.
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