The 227th edition of the Merseyside derby (Watch live, Monday, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) arrives at a point of the 2016-17 Premier League season in which Everton and Liverpool each find themselves at something of a crossroads with regards to the campaign as a whole.
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For Everton, a magnificent start (four wins and a draw from their first five games) to Ronald Koeman‘s first season at Goodison Park has quickly been forgotten as panic begins to set in, with the Toffees winners of just two of their last 11 league games. As momentum goes, Tuesday’s home triumph over title-chasing Arsenal will have done wonders for the blue half of Merseyside.
As for the Reds, their title quest could all but come to an end on Monday. Should Jurgen Klopp‘s men fail to secure three points, they’ll enter the busy holiday period eight points behind leaders Chelsea, at best. A win would move Liverpool back into second in the league table, just six points back of the Blues. While the game is massive, it’s all been pretty straightforward with the players well aware what’s at stake, according to Klopp — quotes from the AP:
“Very, very, very, very big. The good thing around the derby is that I don’t have to say a lot because everybody knows what it is. For me, it’s pretty special because it’s my first time at Goodison Park.
“I like how Liverpool lives with this, the city, lives with these two big clubs. This is the game you want to have. How I said a few times – football is not the most important thing in the world, but on Monday night I’d say for 90 minutes in and around Liverpool, probably it is. So let’s do our best.”
Neither the importance nor the intensity of the Merseyside derby are lost on Liverpool striker Divock Origi, either — quotes from the Guardian: “It will be a war, so we go there in a very positive way. You want to win this game, you know it will not be easy, it is a derby so it will be special and a very big and important game for us as a club also. We have to prepare it well.”