It is always a big game in Liverpool when the two local clubs hook up in the Premier League. It happens twice a year.
However, this year has a bit of a different feel to it. Although early, and although both teams figure to be nowhere near the bottom three come the end of the campaign, right now both Liverpool and Everton find themselves on the wrong end of the table looking up.
Both clubs sit with six points through seven games, Everton in 17th and Liverpool in 18th. Not exactly familiar territory for either team, especially Liverpool.
Everton is not totally foreign to slow starts. In fact, it was just a year ago that David Moyes' club got off to the horrendous start to the season, which, although they finished strong from Christmas on, cost them a top seven finish, as they came in eighth on the table.
However, a strong offseason by Moyes, re-signing key players and making nice additions to the already talented squad, had expectations at Goodison Park high.
Liverpool, on the other hand, knew they may be in for a tough season, at least by their standards. With the ownership situation unstable during the summer and manager Rafael Benitez off to Inter Milan, things were not the same with Liverpool.
Indeed, the slow start on the field could be considered a direct correlation to what happened off the field. Fans are surely hoping the new sale of the team to the Boston Red Sox owners will improve the immediate future for the club. Although finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League may already be out of reach, a top seven finish should again be possible.
Roy Hodgson, the new manager at Liverpool, has many, despite the record, believing in him and the direction of the club.
Former Liverpool player and current Fulham captain Danny Murphy, who had experience with Hodgson at Fulham, recently told liverpoolfc.tv that he thinks Hodgson is the right man for the job.
"The way he wants his team to play and the type of tactics and discipline he wants his team to have don't happen overnight," Murphy said.
"Stay patient. The team has quality in it. Give Roy a bit of time and by Christmas see where we are and everyone will be happier."
Moyes also has his supporters on and off the squad. Assistant manager Steve Round is one who believes in the head man.
"I have so much belief in these players," Round told evertontv.com, "and when you have a manager like David Moyes, who drives every day and won't settle for less than the very best they can give, then you know success is on the way."
The Merseyside Derby is one of the great rivalries in European football. It is also the longest running rivalry in top-flight English football. Last year Liverpool took both games from the Blues.
Counting all meetings over the years (Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, etc...) they have played 213 times. Liverpool has won 85, Everton 63 and they have drawn 65 times.
Meeting 214, perhaps not the most important in the long history of the rivalry, may very well go a long way in determining which of these two neighbors will be able to make a season out of this yet, and which one may be fighting for their league lives.
The game will be played on Sunday at Goodison Park. Liverpool gets to host the second half of the derby this season on Jan. 15.