Liverpool and Everton renew their rivalry, as the Reds welcome in the Toffees for the newest edition in the Merseyside Derby.
Only one point separates the two clubs. Liverpool are in fourth with 43 points, while Everton are in sixth with 42 points. The Reds have taken 10 points from their last six matches, with the Toffees taking 11 from a possible 18 points.
This is generally a match where form goes out the window, but the close nature of these clubs' standing in the table only accentuates the unpredictability of this fixture.
Here's a quick preview for what should be a back-and-forth clash.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m. ET; 8 p.m. GMT
Where: Anfield, Liverpool, England
TV Info: NBC Sports Network (US); BT Sport 1 (UK)
Odds (courtesy of Bloomberg Sports)
Liverpool Win: 45.1 percent
Everton Win: 29.3 percent
Draw: 25.7 percent
Top Storyline: How will Liverpool's midfield perform in Lucas' absence?
Last week against Aston Villa, the Liverpool midfield was exceptionally bad, and the biggest reason for that poor performance was the fact that Steven Gerrard was deployed deeper in midfield. He simply couldn't keep up with Villa's quick attackers. According to Squawka, Gerrard failed to make a single interception, and he lost all six of his headed duels.
To make matters worse, Lucas was injured shortly after his inclusion at the start of the second half. The Brazilian midfielder could be out for two months, leaving Brendan Rodgers with a major quandary on his hands.
Does he drop Gerrard? If Gerrard does start, will Jordan Henderson be limited, unable to make the forward runs that were so effective earlier in the season?
It's likely that Rodgers will opt for both Gerrard and Henderson in midfield, as he has few other options. Joe Allen is still recovering from injury, and it's a race against time to get him ready for the derby, per Sky Sports:
'We need to see with Joe,' Rodgers said on Monday. 'He was on the training field today but it is a case of assessing as to whether it will push him too much for this game because we don't want another injury in a key area.'
If Liverpool suffer from the same problems they did against Villa, it will be a long match.
Kevin Mirallas normally torches Liverpool, and without much resistance in the centre of midfield, he will cut inside and wreak havoc.
Between Liverpool's problems at the back, and the imbalance in midfield, it's hard to see them taking all three points. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are deadly in the attack, but the Reds have too many other problems across the pitch.
Everton, on the other hand, haven't won in any of their last 13 matches at Anfield. Some of that could be chalked up to David Moyes' pragmatic tactics, though.
Roberto Martinez won't be afraid to let his players play and get out on the attack.
Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, for one, is intrigued to see how the match plays out, per the BBC:
The way Everton play now, they're more of a footballing side. They used to go to Anfield, sit players behind the ball, everyone working hard. It'll be interesting to look at what both teams do with their formations.
It should be an entertaining fixture, but one with draw written all over it.
Prediction: Liverpool 1, Everton 1
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