The EPL fixtures returns to action this weekend, putting an end to the two-week international break and what a way to kick things off. Everton clash with Liverpool to take on local rivals Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby, in the first game of the weekend.
The Anfield giants have found some form in recent weeks after a terrible start to the season and come into the game having been unbeaten in their previous 3 fixtures, in which the Reds manager to beat their top-4 rivals Arsenal and mid-table team Burnley before getting a crucial one point away at Manchester City.
Everton too have been on a decent run and will pose a serious threat to the Reds on Saturday afternoon with striker Romelu Lukaku scoring for fun in recent weeks. But Liverpool will need to get maximum points if they are to stay ahead of the chasing pack in the race for the top four.
The Toffees too have been on a decent winning and will proved to be a serious threat to Liverpool Saturday afternoon with Everton’s striker Romelu Lukaku has not been finding it difficult to find the net in recent weeks.
In order to do that, below are three key battles that Jurgen Klopp’s side will need to come out on top if they are to thrash their local rivals.
Sadio Mane v Leighton Baines
If Liverpool are to stand a chance of winning against Ronald Koeman’s Everton, goals will proved difficult and they will be hoping at their leading scorer Sadio Mane to deliver for them. The Senegalese forward has bagged 12 goals for Liverpool this season from 26 appearances and has been in superb running of form.
However, Mane will be up against one of the steadiest and powerhouse left-back in the league in Leighton Baines. The 32-year-old England international may not be as fast as he used to be once but Baines is an intelligent operator. It will be no easy task for him to keep Mane quiet and if he manages to get the better of the Senegalese, it could very well be game over for the Toffees.
Joel Matip v Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku, over the season, has grown into a very top-notch striker. The Belgian forward has grown in stature year after year and is by far enjoying his best campaign with Everton in the Premier League. The Belgian has already seen the net 21 times in the Premier League and is the highest goal-scorer in the competition for now. The fact that the former Chelsea forward has bagged 6 goals in his last 4 league games for the Toffees doesn’t seem well at all for the Reds.
However, Liverpool have Joel Matip in their ranks who could turn out to be the appropriate man to keep Lukaku at bay. The last time the two sides met, the Cameroonian German-born defender could only play a part due to injury issues. But the fact that Matip was able to stop the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Harry Kane, earlier this season, this will give Liverpool a great deal of confidence.
If the Reds are to win on Saturday, I think Matip will have to be at his best and take his threat out of the picture.
Georginio Wijnaldum v Idrissa Gueye
Here’s another key battle that will determine their wining over Everton as this will take place in the middle of the park. It will be interesting to watch Wijnaldum and Gueye go against each other.
Wijnaldum has been absolutely impressive since his arrival to Anfield and has become an integral part of the way Liverpool operates. He provides the drive and the energy in the middle of the part for the Reds and often chips in with important goals with his smart late driving runs into the box. Wijnaldum also has the ability to create chances in plenty for his teammates from the midfield, which will come in handy against a tight Everton defence.
On the other hand, Everton’s Gueye has also been impressive in making match tough for the opposition. The Senegalese arrival in the summer for the Everton has brought in some much-needed balance in the midfield flank and is always up for a battle. A strong midfielder, the 27-year-old has shown great and reading of the game to thwart opponents from building up attacks and a similar performance will be expected at Anfield.
If Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum manages to get the better of his rival, Idrissa Gueye in the midfield, Liverpool will definitely be guaranteed three points in the EPL TABLE.