Everton FC: How the Toffees Should Set Up to Beat Liverpool

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Everton FC: How the Toffees Should Set Up to Beat Liverpool
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

No win since 1999. No win under David Moyes in 11 visits. So how exactly can Everton reverse the tide and record a long overdue victory at Anfield this Sunday?

Regardless of the personnel deployed, taking all three points will prove a tough ask for Moyes' squad. Many of his players have a psychological barrier to overcome, with the majority carrying considerable scars from previous Liverpool defeats.

However, the best way to remedy this is to select the right team, which clearly wasn't the case during Everton's most recent trip when they went down to a 3-0 defeat.

 

Game Plan

With any approach, unless your team boasts an entirely elite lineup, there's always a matter of balancing your own strengths against the opposition's system—and even more so away from home.

While inconsistent, Liverpool are a strong offensive threat, capable of racking up several goals in any contest. They average more shots per game (19.3) than any other Premier League side and pride themselves on absorbing possession with a metronomic passing game.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Their pace up front—even without the suspended Luis Suarez—will trouble Everton, who may need to consider altering their generally high line. The likes of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho will take up several different positions, interchanging around, aiming to play through-balls past the Toffees' back four all afternoon.

With the Reds comfortable playing in their own half, where Everton will also hope to keep the game, Moyes' defenders will have to stay especially vigilant of runners behind them, and be entirely sure of their own role and responsibility. 

At the back, Liverpool have been less convincing, prone to the odd individual gaffe. Everton will hope to capitalise on this and be keen to exploit any space left behind a generally advanced Glen Johnson. 

Stylistically, the Toffees must look to remodel the better work from their recent visit to White Hart Lane, where they so nearly recorded an away victory. Energy levels must be high and they must be committed to overloading men forward at the change of possession.

 

Everton Lineup

via EPL Index

In goal, there's no question about Tim Howard starting, and his full-backs will undoubtedly be Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman, two of the Toffees' top performers this season.

If all three main centre-backs are fit, Phil Jagielka is urgently required. His positional excellence and organisational skills will be sorely needed to blunt Liverpool's fluent offence.

Sylvain Distin has certainly struggled during this fixture in recent years, but much of that has to do with Suarez, and John Heitinga's own inconsistent form is too much of a gamble to play with.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Ahead of the back four comes the major calls.

Despite his form further forward, Marouane Fellaini needs to start this game in midfield, in a defensive berth. His disruptive ability will be a major asset for his side, as will his harrying and hassling in what will be an undoubtedly feisty derby.

It's easy to forget just how formidable he was in a deeper role last season, winning possession in the midfield third 190 times, 26 more than any other player. Dispossessing Liverpool to launch a counter attack on an disorganised defence could prove crucial to his side's chances, and if Everton fall behind he can always be thrust forward later on.

Alongside him, if Darron Gibson is fit, he must start over Leon Osman. The Irishman offers more grit and stability in the middle and possesses an accurate diagonal pass that could prove vital for unleashing fullbacks.

While Osman has been impressive for the Toffees in possession, without the ball he's often targeted by opposing midfielders, especially at away grounds. Only Santi Cazorla (56) has been dribbled past more times in the Premier League this season than the 55 times Osman's been beaten.

Which player not in this XI would you play?

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That is why he needs to start further forward, flanked by Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar. Both will swap wings and will be crucial on the break, especially on the left, when linking up with Baines. Osman will need to find the right pass to free them, while also scurrying around after Liverpool's deepest midfielder and supporting his striker.

Given Mirallas' pace, it makes sense for him to occupy the left-sided role more often, to take advantage of any space behind Johnson. The explosive Belgian's another potential match-winner for the Toffees, and he must be involved as often as possible.

Up front, the ball needs to stick, which leaves Anichebe the slightly better choice than Nikica Jelavic, who seems to have mislaid his first-touch this season. The Nigerian needs to replicate his energy levels against Spurs rather than at Arsenal, where he was far too subdued.

Fielding this XI will by no means guarantee a win, but with the right blend of energy, poise and production, it stands a better chance than most of the recent Everton sides to visit Anfield.


Statistics via EPL Index and WhoScored? 

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