The moment has almost arrived, the match that every fan on Merseyside looks for when the fixture list is released, the game that truly decides who has the bragging rights across the city of Liverpool, it can only be the Merseyside Derby.
In the past it has mostly been Liverpool fans who have had a spring in their step going into the derby match, having had a good recent history in the fixture, combining some very good performances with a few questionable refereeing decisions in their favour, however with an inconsistent start to the season, in vast contrast to their local rivals Everton, the match could not be harder to call. The main worry for Liverpool at the moment is their inability to find the net consistently, with only one recognised striker in the form of Luis Suarez, and a number of goal scoring chances being squandered in previous matches. The danger for Everton is that if they find their eye for goal they could be difficult to contain with Luis Suarez already having a habit of popping up on the big stage. The derby match will be a big test for the likes of Raheem Sterling and Suso, who have both made bright starts to their premier league careers,even leading to an England call up for the former. The question mark for these two players are can they cope and ultimately perform with the hostile Goodison park atmosphere breathing down their necks.
On the other hand Everton have made a bright start to the season, only losing one of their premier league matches so far and boasting an unbeaten home record, with impressive victories over Manchester United and Southampton and a hard fought draw with Newcastle United. New signing Kevin Mirallas has fitted seamlessly into the Everton forward line, providing a piece in the jigsaw of the most dangerous Everton attack for a number of years. A lot will depend on him, especially with the suspension of Steven Pienaar, to provide flare down the wing and provide chances for prolific striker Nikica Jelavic to finish. Another major factor in this game will be the fitness of Marouane Fellaini. Fellaini has been instrumental in Everton’s good form with a string of world class performances, but with a knee injury threatening to rule him out of the fixture, an alternative needs to be found, as Everton seemed to struggle away at basement club QPR in his absence.
The nature of this match in the past has made it a highlight of the season even for the neutral football fans, with passion being displayed at a premium from all areas of the stadium, whether it be from Captains Phil Neville and Steven Gerrard or from the managerial dugout, not to mention some ferocious challenges flying in from all angles. The thing that makes it so exciting this year is that as well as these aspects being on show, both teams are playing wonderful football, which could well lead to one of the most attacking Merseyside derbies in recent times, making it so hard to predict. At the end of the day the match itself will come down to which team can keep their head under the immense pressure and who are the individuals that are willing to give that extra ten per cent in order to secure the glory and the bragging rights that go along with it.