Picking a Merseyside XI Based on Form

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Picking a Merseyside XI Based on Form
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Saturday brings the first Merseyside derby of the season.

It's a fixture Liverpool have well and truly dominated in recent years, losing just one of the past 13 Premier League games and winning seven. 

It's also Roberto Martinez's first derby as Everton's manager, and he will be keen to improve on David Moyes' record of just 16 points from a possible 66 in this fixture.

Putting derby-day hype to one side, here's a look at a current Merseyside XI based on this season's form over reputation. Be sure to add your own selections of Liverpool and Everton players in the comments below.

Merseyside XI - <span class=

The final ratio reads five Everton players to six from Liverpool, which probably reflects on two similar starts to the season, with the Reds three points better off.

The shape is defined by three key attackers that had to be included, limiting the available slots for wide midfielders. Below is a look at the reasoning behind these selections.

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Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

This is one of the closest battles. Howard would have struggled to gain selection over the majority of last season but has impressed during this new campaign.

With a defence often exposing him, the American's already recorded six clean sheets in 11 gameshis best seasonal ratio.

Simon Mignolet began his Liverpool career in strong fashion and recorded three consecutive clean sheets himself. However, his production has dropped slightly in recent games causing him to miss out at this current juncture.

 

Full-backs: Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Right-back is another difficult choice, but Seamus Coleman has mostly disappointed for Everton this season. He's yet to replicate his attacking form of last year and has been alarmingly clumsy in his own area, already conceding two penalties.

While Glen Johnson's only featured in half the season for Liverpool, his presence has clearly boosted his side. The Reds have taken 16 points from a possible 18 with him, compared to just seven points from 15 without.

On the left, Leighton Baines is yet to find top form this season or look completely settled in Martinez's system; however, this is still one of the most straightforward picks.

He is currently competing with Ashley Cole for England's No. 3 jersey, while left-back has become something of a problem area for Liverpool. Neither Jose Enrique nor Aly Cissokho have found consistency as of yet and don't come close to challenging Baines.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

 

Centre-backs: Phil Jagielka and Martin Skrtel

On reputation alone, Daniel Agger is the first name chosen here, and he would be selected were this a best XI; however, we are focusing on form, something the Dane is yet to find just yet.

In his place, Martin Skrtel has appeared rejuvenated in either a three- or four-man defence and is the first selection.

Phil Jagielka then claims the second berth. While he's not quite been at his best individually, he's organised his back four well and shown impressive leadership during his first season as captain.

 

Central Midfield: Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson

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This is the toughest area of the field. It comes down to a three-way heads-up. Gareth Barry vs. Lucas, James McCarthy vs. Steven Gerrard, and Jordan Henderson vs. Ross Barkley or Leon Osman.

Barry has arguably been Everton's best player this season. He dictates a faster, more penetrative tempo with fewer touches and clever angled passes, regularly finishing games as the Toffees' top passer.

Everton are yet to lose with him in the Premier League, and haven't won without him, taking 17 of 21 points compared to just three of 12 in his absence. Lucas has also been excellent for Liverpool, but Barry's leading role with the Toffees eclipses the Brazilian's influence.

Gerrard enters this team on reputation every time but it's a little closer on form, with McCarthy settling in well at Everton. More games and a greater haul of goals and assists sway this in the England captain's favour.

Which player not chosen would be in your form team?

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Finally, and most controversially, Henderson edges out Barkley and Osman. The former Sunderland man is often underrated but has been impressive this season, cementing his place in the Reds' midfield.

Barkley has been the most explosive of the three, and he may take this berth for years to come, but his current form has fluctuated somewhat. He's recently dropped out of the team, and Osman's been too inconsistent to topple Henderson.

 

Attack: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku

This trio were the first names on the team-sheet, dictating the formation and robbing the side of any wingers.

Quite simply, all three had to be included in what became a particularly narrow XI.

They have already scored a mammoth 21 Premier League goals between them and feature in the top seven for goals scored and the top eight for minutes-per-goal.

All three can interchange in an attacking triumvirate, guaranteeing this hybrid Merseyside XI a glut of goals.


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