Player-By-Player Preview: Liverpool vs. Everton - Who Wins?
The Merseyside Derby is one of the Premier League's key fixtures. Perhaps not in terms of silverware or anything particularly tangible but more the obvious spite and bile spat between the two fans online and IRL coupled with both side's penchant for getting a bit spicy with one another on the park.
Rodgers' men will be coming off a disappointing loss against a brilliant West Ham performance last week (COME ON YOU IRONS! etc) and another against weak opposite in the League Cup. Injuries have also whipped it out and wazzed on his fries too, with many core components of his squad sitting on a metaphorical sickbed. Or literal. I dunno, haven't seen what the Liv' medical set up is like, if I'm honest. Everton have only one win in the league, a misfiring Lukaku and have also been suffering with injuries - what the hell is goin' on in the north-west? Is it like Carry On Matron behind the scenes or wot?
Anyway, we're rating each side - player by player - to try and guess who'll win.
LIVERPOOL (predicted line-up)
Mignolet - 6
Looking exceedingly flappy. Flappier than usual and definitely isn't helping a defence who've looked shaky at best, violently incompetent at worst.
Manquillo - 7
A solid if unspectacular start for the Spaniard. Bit bland. Not even got a stupid haircut or anything/
Lovren - 7
Very handsome and competent but he'll be feeling the pressure from a fanbase using him - bizarrely - as a scapegoat for recent defensive frailties.
Skrtel - 4
Despite the fact that he looks like someone from Manhunt, Skrtel hasn't looked up to the fight. Not battling and not using his brain. A liability. A headless chicken.
Moreno - 8
An exciting presence, a constant engine and an eye for goal, Moreno could be Liverpool's main asset.
Sterling - 9
The man, right now. The only player continuing his outstanding form from last season, Sterling would've garnered a ten had it not been for the fact I'm p sure Everton are gonna stick three men on him.
Gerrard - 6
Captain Fantastic needs a rest. This formation doesn't suit him and he's looking leggy and a liability.
Lucas - 7
A vitally important player for Liverpool vs. Everton, he's got the minerals in the tackle but questions marks will still be raised as to his suitability in this position. Not particularly mobile himself, he'll have to do all of Gerrard's running too. Good luck with that, la.
Suso - 7
A generous seven for a player yet to make his mark on the Prem, Suso was impressive in the cup but this might be a case of too much, too soon.
Borini - 6
What does he do again?
Balotelli - 8
This could be Mario's time to shine. He was in the pocket of Tomkins and Reid against West Ham, but against a relatively untested pairing at the back for Everton he could bring the goods/goals. Or he'll get sent off, whatevs.
Howard - 8
Safe. As. Ho(ward)uses.
Stones - 8
Stones has been very impressive since his induction into the side and will only get better. Sterling et al will prove a test but I reckon the lad'll account himself well.
Gibson - ??? (we'll say 6)
The big Irish midfielder might have to fill in at centreback. Who the f*** knows how this one would go?
Jagielka - 7
A good head on big shoulders, his game might be thrown off by a lack of trust in his defensive partner.
Baines - 6
Been a bit rubbish this season - when's the album out?
Atsu - 7
A relatively unknown quality at this level, his pace and power could be an asset to s***-up a shaky LFC backline.
McCarthy - 8
Been running around like a madman during Everton's tough start and deserves a bit of luck. His ability to pick a pass and constant drive will prove invaluable for the Blues.
Barry - 7
He's just a prefect, innit? Just what you want in a defensive midfielder, tbqhwy.
Osman - 7
His brain's not as sharp as it once was but if he can find some space between midfield and attack he's still got enough about him to exploit it.
Mirallas - 9
He either does nothing or looks like a world beater. He's due a big performance and is always up for the grand occasion so I'm betting that he'll be on form.
Lukaku - 7
He needs to do something. He's looked weighed down by the expectation that such a huge pricetag brings and needs a lucky goal - one in off his face, a ricochet that hits him square in the balls - to set him right.
By my maths - a dead scientific calculation and that - Everton, even with their sluggish start, could be too much for a Liverpool looking shellshocked. Injuries, indecision, a struggle to get to grips with a new formation - could this be the game when the Blues gives Rodgers' men a pasting? Or will Mario finally come good and tear apart the Toffees like Darron Gibson in a sweetshop?