Good morning and welcome to the Merseyside Derby! Yes, today is the day that Everton and Liverpool come together at Goodison Park to determine whether the blue side or the red side of town will carry the season’s first bragging rights (7:45 am ET, watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
While any meeting between these two rivals is considered a big event, this match carries some big implications. If Everton win, they pull even with Liverpool on points. Should the Reds walk away with a victory, they’ll go above Arsenal and back into first place — temporarily, at least, pending the outcome of the Gunners’ clash with Southampton.
As much as the hosts would like to put one over on their rivals, Everton also could really just do with a win. Roberto Martinez’s men seem to have gone backward, sitting on two straight goalless draws. And yes, Romelu Lukaku was involved in both. The Toffees could really use some help today from their on-loan Belgian, who starts alone up top, while Ross Barkley replaces Leon Osman, who drops to the bench.
Liverpool, of course, will be starting Luis Suarez up top, as it’s hard to argue with eight goals in seven matches. Daniel Sturridge, too, has eight goals, his from eleven games, but he’ll start on the bench today, thanks to a lingering knock not made any better by his time spent in the England side. It’s Joe Allen that takes his place, while Philippe Coutinho also gets the nod today.
Everton Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Jelavic, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman, Stones
Liverpool Starting XI: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Agger, Skrtel, Lucas, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho, Suarez
Subs: Jones, Toure, Alberto, Moses, Sturridge, Sakho, Sterling