Liverpool vs. Everton: Predicted Lineups, Injuries And More
Red vs. Blue. 'You'll Never Walk Alone' vs. the theme from Z-Cars.
The Merseyside Derby is once again upon us, a storied grudge match which for those 90 minutes drives a serious wedge between people who otherwise love each other dearly.
It's a common sight to see siblings, significant others and best friends—one decked out in blue, the other in red—all personal connections tossed aside in the name of history and the name of football.
Read on for projected lineups, injuries and more and check back on Bleacher Report for matchday coverage and reactions on Sunday.
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The key to the Toffees' success will be in their defense, led by keeper Tim Howard and last year's club Player of the Season Leighton Baines.
Tim Cahill still looking doubtful from an injury sustained after his clash with Vincent Kompany during last week's match against Manchester City.
Expect Leon Osman to fulfill the second striker role in David Moyes' 4-4-1-1 formation and 'game-changer' Louis Saha is likely to start up front after recovering from an injury.
Player to Watch:
A key element to Everton's success will be the performance of American keeper Tim Howard.
A world-class goalie who, at the end of 2010, had clean sheets in nearly half his 109 appearances for Everton.
He performed quite well in Everton's last home victory against Wigan Athletic—may be the key to stopping the striking power of Luis Suárez.
Predicted Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Baines, Hibbert, Jagielka; Coleman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Drenthe; Osman; Saha
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Kenny Dalglish is a bit spoiled for choice in the midfield.
His usual suspects are now at full strength following Charlie Adam's return from suspension after being sent off against Tottenham Hotspur.
The biggest dilemma will likely come in choosing a right winger.
Stewart Downing is off to a great start this season, but Dirk Kuyt has proved a consistent force on derby day throughout his time at Anfield.
The tireless Dutchman has scored five goals in his career matchups with Everton, including a goal in each of the last three Merseyside derbies.
Player to Watch:
After a groin injury kept him on the bench for most of the season so far, captain Steven Gerrard is back and facing his first major test.
This will be his first start of the season following his first Premier League match appearance, a cameo in the Reds' win over Wolverhampton.
Now, flanked by a strong, experienced midfield, it will be interesting to see what Stevie G is capable of.
Also worth watching are Luis Suárez and Dirk Kuyt, who will make things rather difficult for Tim Howard.
Predicted Starting XI (4-4-2): Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, José Enrique; Kuyt, Gerrard, Adam, Lucas Leiva; Suárez, Bellamy
Further Matchday Considerations and Injury Reports
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Further Matchday Considerations:
+ Kuyt and About:
Let's talk about Dirk Kuyt some more.
'Dangerous Dirk' has emerged as something of a 'supersub' so far this season, coming in as a clutch player (and scoring in the Reds' Carling Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion) and having some trouble breaking into the first team.
Jordan Henderson needs more time to develop and Kuyt's persistence and effort on the pitch are assets that would be useful at all points in the match.
It's clear he needs to remain a regular part of the midfield for now, and especially on Derby Day, where he shines.
+ The Return of Martin Kelly:
The 21-year-old defender, who began as a promising youth academy prospect and worked his way up to become a fan favorite at Anfield.
Now back after recovering from a hamstring injury, Kelly will be one to watch in his first big test of this season and could be what the Reds need to stop a win-hungry Leon Osman.
+ Over the Cahill:
Everton will likely be without their star Aussie midfielder as Tim Cahill is still looking doubtful after a shin injury.
Although Cahill has yet to score a goal for the Toffees so far this season.
His versatility and inventiveness have always proved an asset. With him normally taking something of a leadership role in the attack, it'll be interesting to see what tricks Everton can pull out of their sleeves in his absence.
Key Matchups: Martin Kelly vs. Leon Osman, Dirk Kuyt vs. Leighton Baines; Luis Suárez / Craig Bellamy vs. Tim Howard
Injuries / Absences:
Liverpool: Daniel Agger (ribs), Glen Johnson (hamstring)
Everton: Victor Anichebe (hamstring), Tim Cahill (doubtful, shin)