The second Merseyside derby of the season and the 222nd overall takes place at Anfield tonight, with Everton and Liverpool separated by just a single point in the Premier League table. Both sides are enjoying impressive seasons but know that the campaign will only be deemed a success if they are able to secure the fourth place finish that the two teams desire. It promises to be a hotly contested tie, with both managers looking to approach the fixture in a positive frame of mind and despite the huge injury lists on both sides, the level of quality should be as high as it has been for a number of years.
Speaking to the press ahead of the game, Martinez explained that the Blues will make the short journey across the park without any fear.
“We’re ready to go to Anfield and enjoy our game. I want all the fans to do the same, and push us to the limit.
“We’ve got nothing to lose. It’s tough in football when you’re expected to get a result. We work so hard on a daily basis to go anywhere and be ourselves, and we have no expectations on us now.
“History shows how difficult it has been to get points there. They have that history in their favour over the years but it’s time for us to have a real enjoyment. We want to make every Evertonian proud and that’s all that matters.
“To go there, be ourselves, show what we can do and make sure we give everything we have for a positive result.
“The first derby of the season gave us a positive boost because we felt we were the better side. We need to earn that positive feeling by performing well again.”
Tuesday nights match will be the 222nd derby and the 190th in the league. Disappointingly, Everton have not won at Anfield for 15 years, a record the Blues will be determined to rectify. Martinez has been keen to explain during the build up, that the current squad of players can do nothing about the fixtures history, but they can certainly put an end to the long sequence of results without victory. The last time Everton did win at Anfield was in 1999, when Kevin Campbell prodded home an early goal to secure a 1-0 victory. That win apart Everton have drawn 8 and lost 6 times in the 14 subsequent visits to Anfield.
Last years fixture ended 0-0, a dire game with very little goal mouth action. That was in contrast to the last two matches at Goodison, which have both also ended all square, but with plenty of goals shared around by the two teams. The 3-3 draw earlier in the season was the best derby for quite some time and the BT camera’s are back in town hoping for a repeat. The Blues twice came back from losing situations, only to throw away the chance to win it themselves. Two second half goals from Romelu Lukaku appeared to have put Everton on the road to victory, but Daniel Sturridge climbed off the substitutes bench to grab an equaliser.
Liverpool have been much improved this season and have started to adapt well to the demands of Brendan Rodgers. They possess a dangerous attacking line up, with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge scoring 33 goals between them so far this season. The defence however is suspect, and recent performances against Stoke and Aston Villa have given the Blues plenty of reasons for optimism. Simon Mignolet signed to provide stability between the sticks, has found the pressure of playing for a side at the top end of the league too much to take and has made a number of high-profile errors. Kolo Toure is showing exactly why Manchester City agreed to let him leave and is far from the assured presence that a high quality team requires in the centre of defence.
Brendan Rodgers is faced with a difficult decision over his starting formation as he looks to play all of his better players. He is expected to go with a 4-1-3-2, with Gerrard holding in midfield, allowing Henderson, Stirling and Coutinho to play behind the normal front two. Like Everton, Liverpool have been decimated by injuries in recent weeks and they are expected to be missing, Johnson, Flanagan, Sakho, Agger and Lucus.
Roberto Martinez will assess the latest fitness of many of his injured players before kick-off. Ten first team players are out or doubtful, an injury list that is stretching one of the leagues smallest squads. The Everton manager has already ruled out Seamus Coleman and indicated that Sylvain Distin is a huge doubt. Gerard Deulofeu, who had such a big impact in the reverse fixture is still recovering from injury in Spain and they join a trio of long-term absentees, Darron GIbson, Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo, to leave six sitting out the derby.
Phil Jagielka is expected to shake off the effects of a slight hamstring strain and the manager remains hopeful that Steven Pienaar will be back after sitting out the last two matches. The biggest boost is expected to be the return or Ross Barkley. The young Evertonian had a huge impact in the first game and should play after receiving a pain killing injection. New signing Aiden McGeady and loanee striker, Lacina Traore are both expected to start from the bench. With Distin and Alcaraz unlikely to play, Martinez faces a choice between a farewell performance for John Heitinga and a first league start of the season for Tony Hibbert for the final position, with John Stones playing either at right back or in the central of defence to accommodate the managers decision.
Possible Starting Team: Howard; Baines, Stones, Jagielka, Heitinga; Barry, McCarthy, Barkley; Osman, Mirallas; Lukaku.
Everton are looking to win at Anfield for the first time in 15 years.
Everton have only won one of the last ten matches against Liverpool. Losing five and drawing four.
Liverpool have won six, lost three and drawn one of their last ten Premier League matches.
Everton have won six, lost one and drawn three of their last ten Premier League matches.
The corresponding fixture last season ended 0-0.
The reverse fixture earlier this season at Goodison, ended 3-3, with Mirallas and Lukaku (2) scoring for Everton and Coutinho, Saurez and Sturridge scoring for Liverpool.
Our archive footage comes from the last Everton victory at Anfield, with Kevin Campbell scoring early for the Blues before three players received a red card in dramatic derby back in 1999.