An Everton side who have made an excellent start to the new season face a tough test of their credentials when they host local rivals and reigning Premier League champions Liverpool at Goodison Park in the EPL on Saturday (7.30am ET).
Everton have kicked off a league season with four consecutive victories for the first time in over 50 years. In fact, it is the first time since September 2016 that they have strung together four wins on the bounce. The best they managed last season was two.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side secured the fourth of those with a 4-2 win over Brighton prior to the international break. Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave them an early lead and although a Jordan Pickford error allowed Brighton back in it, goals either side of half-time from Yerry Mina and James Rodriguez, and another from Rodriguez later on, steered the result Everton’s way.
Rodriguez has starred since his off-season arrival from Real Madrid to link up again with Ancelotti, who previously coached him both there and at Bayern Munich. Between him, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, Everton have plenty of shot producing capability. If Ancelotti can strike an adequate balance behind them, there are the makings of a good team.
Everton’s underlying numbers were better than their finishing position of 12th last season, and so they always looked like a side who would be capable of moving up the table this time around. Add to that another summer of big spending, with Rodriguez’s hefty wages added to the £20 million plus signings of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan and Ben Godfrey, and you have a side who will hope to remain in the European picture as the season progresses.
We are only four matches in, so it would be foolish to jump to too many conclusions at this stage, but Everton’s metrics also look good, so there seems to be a solid basis for their impressive start. Their fixtures against the other sides likely to figure in the European picture are fairly nicely spaced, so even if they are unable to continue their victorious run on Saturday, there will be opportunities to get back up to speed quickly thereafter.
Recent history would suggest an Everton win is unlikely. The last three league matches between these sides at Goodison Park have all ended in 0-0 draws and seven of the last eight meetings there have been draws of one kind or another. It is necessary to go back to October 2010, 20 meetings ago, to find the last time Everton were victorious in the Merseyside derby.
Liverpool have also been frightfully consistent performers over the last couple of campaigns. Including the four matches they have played so far this season, Jurgen Klopp’s side have won 65 and lost just five of their last 80 Premier League fixtures. They began 2020-21 with consecutive wins over Leeds, Chelsea and Arsenal.
They do, though, come into the derby on the back of an astonishing 2-7 defeat away to Aston Villa. Liverpool were two down within 22 minutes, and almost as soon as Mohamed Salah pulled one back, Villa grabbed two more to go in 4-1 up at the interval. As Liverpool pushed forward in search of a way back into the game, so spaces opened up in transition. Villa scored again before Salah’s second and twice more thereafter to cap off a humiliating defeat.
To put that into context, seven goals is just over 20% of the total Liverpool conceded across the entirety of last season. It is likely to be an anomaly. Liverpool remain a superb team, and the current greatest USA offshore, legal bookmakers’ favorites to lift the Premier League trophy again. It will be concerning to Klopp that some of the bad habits that sneaked in once last season’s title was won seem to have carried over into the early running of the new campaign.
A victory for Everton would represent a concrete marker of their progress, but with the midweek travel to South America for the international break likely to somewhat blunt Rodriguez’s early-season sharpness, they might not quite have enough to get it over the line. This fixture has been filled with draws in recent years and another is likely on Saturday. So the conclusion of our EFC vs LFC predictions is this betting pick: