Everton will host league leaders Liverpool in the 287th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Sunday night. Both teams are set to play their first game since the resumption of the Premier League, which was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Reds, who are 22 points clear at the top of the table, are just two wins away from lifting their maiden Premier League title.
On the other hand, after starting brightly under Carlo Ancelotti, Everton’s form has dipped since the turn of the year, with the Toffees currently occupying the 12th spot on the Premier League table. Everton are in the midst of a mini injury crisis as Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph have joined Theo Walcott and Jean-Philippe Gbamin on the sidelines.
While for Liverpool, both Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson remain doubtful, with the duo playing no part in the behind-closed-door friendly against Blackburn Rovers. However, manager Jurgen Klopp has not ruled out the pair for Sunday’s Merseyside derby. But Xherdan Shaqiri will the game against Liverpool due to a fresh injury concern.
So, who are the five players to look forward to in the upcoming high-voltage Merseyside derby.
#5 Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
With Mohamed Salah still doubtful, Liverpool number 9 Roberto Firmino will have the added responsibility of stepping up for the Reds when they travel to Goodison Park on Sunday.
Often criticized from few corners due to his lack of goals, Firmino is not your conventional goal-poacher. The Brazilian’s ability to link-up play in the attacking third, along with his tireless displays, are second to none at this moment.
In nine outings against Everton across all competitions, Firmino is yet to be on the losing side (6 wins and 3 draws). The 28-year-old will look to break his duck in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.
#4 Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin has exceeded expectations with his performances this campaign. So far this season, Calvert-Lewin has managed to find the back of the net on 13 occasions in only 27 Premier League appearances.
Having been handed the prestigious number 9 shirt at the start of the campaign, the Sheffield-born striker has performed out of his skin to become the club’s highest goalscorer this season. In fact, he has been one of the brightest spots in an otherwise gloomy campaign for Everton.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has all the attributes to make an impact in the Merseyside derby, and Everton fans will be hoping for a five-star performance from the 23-year-old.
#3 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Arguably the best centre-back in the world at this moment, Virgil van Dijk would surely like to play a big part in the outcome of Sunday’s Merseyside derby. Since his arrival from Southampton in January 2017, the strongly built, right-footed defender has been a huge hit for the Reds.
In fact, Van Dijk’s mere presence has totally revolutionized Liverpool’s defence, with the Dutchman helping the Reds to their sixth Champions League triumph last season. So far in the Premier League this season, the 28-year-old has helped Liverpool to keep 12 clean sheets in 29 appearances, with a successful tackle percentage of 55.
With the firepower they have got upfront, Liverpool will be hoping for another top-notch performance from Van Dijk at the back at Goodison Park.
#2 Richarlison (Everton)
With several of Everton’s big-names sidelined for Sunday’s clash, Richarlison has to step up in order to make a difference for his side in the Merseyside derby.
Especially after his controversial jibe at Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, stating that the Dutchman doesn’t belong to the elite class of world’s best defenders, Richarlison will have his work cut out against the Reds.
Richarlison has managed to score 10 goals and provide three assists in 27 Premier League appearances this season, forming a formidable partnership with his partner in crime, Dominic Calvert-Lewin upfront.
Although the Brazilian has only managed to score once against Liverpool in his career, Richarlison will like to impose his mark against Everton’s Merseyside rivals on Sunday.
#1 Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
All eyes will once again be on Sadio Mane as the Senegalese attacker has been one of the best Liverpool players in the present campaign, rescuing the Reds on multiple occasions from the jaws of defeat.
The Senegalese international has scored a total of 14 goals and provided seven assists in 26 Premier League appearances so far this campaign. And he would surely like to add up to his tally on Sunday.
Everton have been one of Mane’s favourite opponents, with the 28-year-old scoring four times in 10 Merseyside derbies, registering five wins in the process. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping for another blockbuster performance from the former Southampton star as Liverpool inch closer to their first Premier League title.