With the second Merseyside derby of the season coming up, we continue our regular ‘Who is the better team’ feature by comparing the players that are most likely to turn out at Anfield on Sunday. We all know that star striker Luis Suarez will miss out, and we believe that Liverpool will field the same team that thrashed Newcastle 6-0 last week. Everton should have Darron Gibson back in place for Jelavic but other than that we expect no changes.
Pepe Reina V Tim Howard
The first one, but a tough one. Reina in the past was a brilliant keeper, one of the best. His distribution is still second to none but there are still a few errors per season that cost his team. His punches from crosses are good most of the time and his shot stopping is strong enough.
Tim Howard is a very similar keeper. While Reina easily surpasses Howard on distribution, the American shades the shot-stopping abilities. Howard is another keeper that makes mistakes in seasons, although of recent has been in good form, helped by the better performances of the back four in front of him.
Both goalkeepers are about where they should be in the league and that’s why I can’t split them.
Reina 8 – Howard 8
Glen Johnson V Seamus Coleman
Another one that is tough! Johnson is great going forward although can be suspect going back at times. The Englishman has improved that this season though and is becoming more solid. For me he seems to refuse to cross to often, looking to come inside.
Coleman has come on in leaps and bounds. At the beginning of the season he couldn’t defend, now his reading of the game is excellent and he can shield the ball better than anyone. The 60k man has always been a threat going forward too, he has the most assists from a defender in the league. Not bad.
Johnson 8 – Coleman 8
Jamie Carragher V Phil Jagielka
Ah, Jamie Carragher. A Liverpool legend, a figure of hate to all Evertonians. We can’t deny though that he has been a great defender over the years and has been part of the core of the Liverpool team. Retiring at the end of the season and rightly so, while he hasn’t lost his commitment and technical side, he has lost his pace and can be tormented by quick feet. Still gets a high score because he can still do a job.
Jagielka returned to the Everton side against Fulham and the clean sheet returned. It seems when he takes the captaincy and figures in the Everton back 4, then Everton’s chances are greatly increased. In top form now and we hope it will continue into next season. This game will be a big test to his captaincy, can he keep the Everton side calm when under inevitable pressure?
Carragher 8 – 8 Jagielka
Daniel Agger V Sylvain Distin
Agger is now Liverpool’s best centre back. He posses great ability in distribution and his reading of the game is brilliant. He has been rumoured to be heading elsewhere but manager Brendan Rodgers will surely be hoping he can keep hold of the Dane in order to progress.
Distin is a very different defender but will get the same score. Distin’s reading of the game isn’t as good as Aggers, but Distin’s recovery game is better than anyone’s in the league. His pace and strength will match and beat any striker in the league. Luckily for Sylvain though, the absolute only striker I have seen torment him will be missing, in Luis Suarez.
Agger 8 – Distin 8
Jose Enrique V Leighton Baines
Enrique has had a topsy-turvy time at Anfield. When he joined from Newcastle he look very good. Strong in defence and good enough going forward. Then injuries struck and under Rodgers he lost his place at the start of the season. In recent weeks he’s fought back and is a decent enough Premier League left-back.
Baines was recently selected in the PFA team of the year, and rightly so. More key passes than anyone in Europe, always a threat and never the reason an attack breaks down. You can’t beat this lad.
Enrique 7 – Baines 9
Stuart Downing V Kevin Mirallas
Downing in another player to come on in leaps and bounds this season. He was ready to be shipped to the highest (or only) bidder in January before proving his worth to Rodgers and is now a fairly regular figure in the Liverpool side. There are still games that pass him by though and as well as this he doesn’t win games on his own, like Mirallas can.
Mirallas has dipped in the last few weeks. It was always going to be hard to match his performances against Man City, Stoke and Tottenham. He can still win the match on his own though and will always have a period in every game where he has 10 full minutes of attacking a full back and tormenting him. Usually when he switches to the left.
Downing 7 – Mirallas 8
Lucas Leiva V Darron Gibson
Opinion is split on Lucas by the neutral football fan. Some think he’s just a bruiser who goes around kicking lumps out of the oppositions better players. Others would see it as breaking up play and laying it off to the players around him. I think he falls under the second category.
I and every Evertonian hopes the midfield man makes this game. He completely transforms the Everton side. He picks the ball up from the Everton defence that would usually be happy to lump it up top, and can pick a pass out to the fullbacks that have raced ahead of him. A key part in the Everton attack and defence as he also holds the midfield together.
Lucas 8 – 8 Gibson
Steven Gerrard V Leon Osman
Gerrard continues the Liverpool core in midfield. In his old days he would play further forward but now in his older days he’s still an excellent player that picks out some great passes. I still think he tries the hollywood pass too often in certain games but when they do come off in important matches it can set up important goals.
Osman is the other local lad. Unfortunately nowhere near as good. He had another poor game against Fulham, continuing his poor form since Christmas. He won’t get dropped for this and shouldn’t do, only because of Everton’s poor alternatives. The recently capped Englishman does have a few amazing games a season, I’d love him to stand out in this one but I can’t see it.
Gerrard 9 – Osman 7
Jordan Henderson V Steven Pienaar
Many players have improved since Brendan Rodgers took the Anfield reigns and no player has benefited more than Henderson. The young midfielder had been battling Joe Allen for a place in the early season but as the Welshman picked up injuries Henderson made the right-sided-centre midfield role his own. He’s started to chip in with more goals and assists too, which helps.
Pienaar returned to form in the win over Fulham. It seems if he grabs a goal or assist that he will continue the match in form, whereas if he goes through a frustrating first half, he will only get worse and more erratic. Let’s hope he does something influencing in the early stages at Anfield.
Henderson 7 – Pienaar 8
Phillipe Coutinho V Marouane Fellaini
Coutinho looks an astute little buy in January. The Brazilian can dribble past players at ease but then also has the qualities to pick out an outstanding pass that can turn the game on it’s head. He can provide that crucial pass in the counter attack. He needs to prove himself in the long run like his counterpart to get that near perfect score.
Fellaini missed a sitter against Fulham, but that was his first chance in a couple of months since he has started to have been deployed in a deeper role by manager Moyes. We think he’ll return to the CAM position for this, with Gibson hopefully returning to the midfield and Barkley still being affected in games to the crowd pressures. Hopefully the big Belgian will return up top with a bang, and bully the Liverpool centre-backs.
Coutinho 8 – Fellaini 9
Daniel Sturridge V Victor Anichebe
I would expect Sturridge to get a minimum of 10 goals next season for Liverpool. If he starts more regularly, he’ll get more. He’ll take his chances and he’ll have games where he’ll torment defences through great movement and link up play.
Anichebe has gone quiet of late too. After a blistering couple of months after Christmas, he hasn’t done much in the last few games. When he doesn’t offer that hold up play, he doesn’t offer much at all. He’s not an intelligent Striker who will drag defenders out of position but hopefully he’ll return to his bullying ways on Sunday, to match Fellaini. He’s not in much worry of losing his place, with Jelavic completely out of sorts.
Sturridge 8 – Anichebe 7
Liverpool – 86
Everton – 88
This result has actually surprised me. I thought Liverpool might just have the better team on paper but it seems the league standing are about right, as Everton have a short 2 player rating advantage going into the game and a 5 point advantage in the league. Obviously if Suarez was back it would be even. You’d probably say that Liverpool have more match-winners in there though, so who knows how things will play out on Sunday.
Do you believe I’ve got this all wrong? Treated someone harshly or too well? Comment below or sign up to theevertonforum.com to have a discussion on the Blues and the Reds.