Five games into the Premier League season, Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool duel at Goodison Park in the weekend’s early kickoff. Frank Lampard’s men are already on the boil. Hovering just above the relegation places, the Toffees are yet to register a win this season. Three draws are all they’ve mustered, and Liverpool’s visit might exacerbate their crisis-club status. For Jurgen Klopp, the season began sourly. Two draws, a slew of injuries and defeat to a mediocre Manchester United raised questions about the Reds’ decline. 

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They’ve responded with typical derring-do. A 9-0 demolition of Bournemouth followed by a come-from-behind win against Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United gives them momentum going into the derby. The win, sealed at the death, gave Klopp enough ballast to raise the Kop into what seemed a call to arms. Although captain Jordan Henderson limped off with a hamstring injury, the intensity of Pool’s play was encouraging enough. 

Haranguing and harassing the Tynesiders from the get-go, Liverpool played with brio and intensity, critically lacking at Old Trafford. Condensing the pitch, suffocating opposition players, cutting off passing lanes, etc.; it was a chip off the old block but now allied to a more fast-paced possession game. Youngsters Fabio Carvalho and Harvey Elliot excelled: the former scoring the 98th-minute winner. Yet, their midfield remains threadbare. Arthur Melo- signed on loan from Juventus- won’t find himself in the matchday squad. But in the Fabinho-Carvalho-Elliot axis, the Reds have quality enough to down their neighbours. In better news, Diogo Jota and the irascible Darwin Nunez return to the side- the latter after serving out a three-match suspension for headbutting Joachim Andersen.  

The Goodison faithful will be relieved to have held onto Anthony Gordon for the season. The Liverpool local- fearless and willing- is Lampard’s primary dagger. Demarai Gray, on the opposite flank, can cause mischief when in the mood. Belgian Amadou Onana- all of 21- is the side’s midfield powerhouse: charging from deep, breaking the Liverpool lines, etc. The return of Idrissa Gana Gueye from Paris adds bite to their midfield, but he begins from the bench. Merseysider James Garner- once of Manchester United- won’t be thrown into the derby hothouse. ‘Ol Frank prefers he settle in first, before being thrust into the Premier League wildfire. Tom Davies starts instead. Neal Maupay makes his debut.

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But Everton has injury lay-offs of their own. Defenders Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate all sit out. As does midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure, winger Andros Townsend and forward and talisman Dominic Calvert-Lewin. 

Starting XIs:

Everton (4-3-3): Pickford (GK, C); Mykolenko, Tarkowski, Coady, Patterson; Davies, Onana, Iwobi; Gordon, Maupay, Gray. 

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson (GK); Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Elliot, Carvalho; Salah, Nunez, Diaz.