Premier League, September 27th 2008
Everton v Liverpool
It’s the Merseyside derby, the Goodison one, and although some Reds supporters will argue the games against Manchester United are bigger, it’s still massive – especially to local Reds. Everton actually bring out DVDs of the game if they win.
Both sides of course will do all they can to win. For both sets of supporters it’s important they go into work on Monday morning without having to hear the jokes their colleagues have spent 48 hours crafting. They want to be telling the jokes, having the fun. But for Liverpool there’s also the importance of not dropping any more points in what is an important season for Rafa Benitez. If they want to be challenging for the league they’ve got to get the points against the big sides – like they did in their win against Manchester United two weeks ago – but they’ve also not to drop points against the small sides – like they did last week against Stoke. They mustn’t drop points today.
Everton are looking for their first home point in what is the 179th derby, Liverpool are so far unbeaten in the league this season. But that really doesn’t matter in these games, where the referee’s name is often mentioned more than any player’s name in any discussions after the match. Ask Clive Thomas about this. You can also ask Mark Clattenburg about this – the two Everton players he sent off in this fixture last season took the total to 16 red cards in the 32 meetings since the Premier League began, and added his name to a list that Everton supporters seem to keep in their heads. One of those sent off last season was Everton captain Phil Neville, who appointed himself rush-goalie to prevent Liverpool’s Lucas getting his first goal for the club. Liverpool’s captain, Steven Gerrard, has been sent off twice in these games.
Today’s referee is Mike Riley, who seems to be unpopular with fans of all clubs. With 20 yellow cards already in just four matches so far this season it’s not exactly surprising. Two of those went to Liverpool players – Arbeloa and Keane in the game at home to Middlesborough. He booked eight in one game last weekend, seven of them going to Manchester United players in their draw with Chelsea.
More John Motson style trivia for this fixture – defeat today would be Everton’s third in a row at home, and it would be the first time that’s happened in almost three years. And it was Liverpool who inflicted that third defeat three years ago. Liverpool are on a run of 12 games unbeaten in the league, but remaining unbeaten isn’t enough – too many draws last season ended any hopes of a league challenge pretty early. But Everton aren’t likely to go into this game looking for a point, which means the game should be open and full of chances.
Everton: 24 Howard, 2 Hibbert, 4 Yobo, 6 Jagielka, 5 Lescott, 10 Arteta, 18 Neville, 25 Fellaini, 21 Osman, 17 Cahill, 22 Yakubu
Subs: 1 Nash, 3 Baines, 8 Castillo, 9 Saha, 14 Vaughan, 19 Nuno Valente, 26 Rodwell
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 2 Dossena, 18 Kuyt, 14 Alonso, 8 Gerrard, 11 Riera, 9 Torres, 7 Keane
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 4 Hyypia, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio, 16 Pennant, 19 Babel, 21 Lucas
Referee: Mike Riley