Really, for the first time in the Premier League era, you can make an argument for saying that Everton should be winning the Merseyside derby on merit. They’re the better team.
Of course, derby games never really work like that, and intangibles are more in-play than usual, but it’s a mark of how far David Moyes has taken his side that you would now feel more confident than ever in putting your money behind Everton on Sunday.
There are two big misses for Moyes at the weekend: Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini, and obviously they would both be starting if available. But that being said, Everton still retain a cohesion which doesn’t exist at Anfield yet. The little combinations around the pitch, the understanding that exists in the side – it’s the backbone upon which the team is built. Even so, there’s plenty of individual talent as well: Nikica Jelavic is obviously something special, Leon Osman is one of the most under-appreciated performers in the league, Kevin Mirallas has added some real intent, trickery and technique on the right-hand side, and Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin are a top-4 defensive partnership.
With the individuals at Brendan Rodgers’ disposal, inevitably chemistry will develop in his side and they will become Champions League qualification-competitive within eighteen months to three years, but derbies are about complete team performances and Everton are in a better place to deliver one at the moment. Watch Liverpool’s games this season again – they stutter through fixtures, and their momentum and belief seems to continually fluctuate. That’s not going to get it done over the weekend.
The bookies are giving huge odds on either side winning the game – 17/10 Everton and 19/10 Liverpool, that home market is well-worth the investment.
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