The draw of the third round of the FA Cup has provided us with a fixture between two local rivals in the form of a Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton on Sunday (11.01am ET).
Both clubs have a strong history in the competition. Liverpool have lifted the trophy on seven occasions and finished as runners up seven times more. Everton have won it five times and been the losing finalists on a further eight occasions.
The clubs come into this encounter on the back of entirely different campaigns. Liverpool are the runaway Premier League leaders, with a double-digit points lead and a game in hand over the nearest of the chasing pack. Everton were forced to change head coach after a start to the season that left them towards the bottom of the table.
Liverpool extended their unbeaten campaign to 20 matches with a 2-0 win at home to Sheffield United on Thursday. Goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane gave them their 19th win of a season that will surely now end in their first league title in 30 years.
Jurgen Klopp’s team pushed Manchester City all the way in last season’s title race, finishing second despite an incredible haul of 97 points. That seems to have driven them on to even greater heights this time around. They have been a winning machine and are well on course to becoming the first team to accumulate over 100 points in a Premier League season.
Everton would be happy if they could simply end the campaign with more than 50 points. While results since the sacking of Marco Silva following a 2-5 defeat to Liverpool in early December have been good enough to alleviate concerns that they could be dragged into a relegation fight, an upper mid-table finish probably represents their ceiling.
The appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, with league title and Champions League triumphs on his resume, is an ambitious one. It points to the owner’s desire to convert Everton into a top-six club, one that despite heavy spending has yet to be realized. They do have a squad capable of potentially putting together a good run in the FA Cup, if they could only make it past this difficult first hurdle.
Everton’s last win over Liverpool in any competition came in 2010, 21 meetings ago, but Ancelotti has certainly constructed teams capable of competing with Liverpool in recent times. In each of the last two seasons, his Napoli sides have recorded home victories over the Reds, while they also secured a 1-1 draw at Anfield this time around.
With both sides at full strength, it would still take a brave bettor to back anyone but Liverpool to emerge victorious, but that may not be the scenario on Sunday. Liverpool have shown little inclination to attack the domestic cup competitions with any real vigor over the last few seasons, regularly putting out reserve sides in both the EFL Cup and the FA Cup.
In the two seasons prior to this one, Jurgen Klopp’s side hadn’t gone further than the fourth round in either tournament. Their run to the fifth round of this season’s EFL Cup came to an abrupt end as a barely recognisable group of players fell to a 0-5 defeat away to Aston Villa.
An exception was made for the third round of the 2017-18 FA Cup, in which the draw again pitted these two Merseyside clubs against each other. Liverpool were 2-1 winners on that occasion, with James Milner and Virgil van Dijk getting the goals. It is hard to see them surrendering the derby to their local rivals with too weak a team on Sunday, especially given the cushion they have atop the Premier League table.
Our Preview’s Liverpool vs Everton Predictions, Tips & Picks Verdict
Backing Liverpool to win in a match similar to that 2018 encounter, with both teams getting on the scoresheet, seems a solid play.
- Bet on Liverpool to win in a match in which both teams score @ +190 with Bovada. Go to the market called “Match Result & Both Teams To Score” and choose “Liverpool Win & Yes.”