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Rupert Wyman 5th Feb 2010 - 18:25

Derby day bonanza

This weekend is the 213th Merseyside derby. The old foes, Everton and Liverpool will battle it out at Anfield. David Moyes, the Everton manager takes charge for his 600th game as a football league manager.

Both teams are in a rich vein of form, following slow starts to the season. Rafa the gaffers' team has managed five clean sheets in Liverpool's last six games, with four of those games being victories.

Everton have remained unbeaten in their last nine league games, since the last Liverpool derby. That day, Liverpool took the honours with a 2-0 victory, Mascherano's deflected first-half shot and Kuyt's late strike gave them the victory.

Everton dominated for long periods but failed to turn the possession into goals.

On recent form, the stats suggest that the match will be a tightly contested affair will little between the two sides.

At Anfield, Everton's recent record is poor. They have not left there victorious, since September 1999. The stat that stands out is the five draws, between the two sides from Everton's last nine derby trips to Anfield.

Can the Blues end their eleven year win-less run at Anfield or will Rafa complete the double?

Arteta could play a part in the match, but is unlikely to start, as a groin strain has disrupted his comeback from a lengthy injury this season.

Jagielka looks like he will only return from his knee injury during March and is definitely unavailable.

Yobo and Yakubu could participate, after their return from International duty in Angola, with Nigeria.

Moyes is likely to stick to a similar side that battled to a 1-0 away win at Wigan.

Landon Donovan is likely to start ahead of the Yak, after his fine form since his loan move from LA Galaxy.

Right-back is becoming a problem position for Rafa.

Johnson, Degen and Kelly are all major doubts to make the squad.

Carragher will deputise at right-back, with Agger in contention to start at centre-half.

Torres is still unavailable for Liverpool, he has missed the last four games after undergoing a knee operation, midfielders Benayoun and Aurelio are both out of contention.

It is unlikely that this match will be remembered as a rough blood-and-thunder derby, but it will be highly competitive, with energetic, free flowing football.

The players starting for both sides are very attack minded, and are not very malicious players. There should be plenty of goals in the game, Everton have very dangerous players in Saha, Cahill, Donovan and Pienaar.

I would have a flutter on Everton to score in both halves at 5/1, they have the necessary quality to take their chances and Liverpool can make basic errors at the back.

Liverpool are ninety minute favourites at 5/6, I would not back Liverpool at that price because there is better value and reason behind the draw at 12/5.

There have been five draws in Everton's last nine league derby trips to Anfield and the Toffees are more than capable of getting a result.

Although Liverpool are favourites, I believe they are only grinding out good results and it was only a few weeks ago that Rafa looked on his way out of Anfield.

Kuyt and Ngog are great squad players but not the sort of attackers that Liverpool can rely on to lead the line every match.

The team spirit at Everton is fantastic under Moyes, they are a very resilient side and they have overcome injury after injury.

I would back the 2-2 draw at 14/1, Liverpool have the home advantage and the Kop fans will demand attacking football.

However, Everton's passion, attacking ability and never say die team ethic will ensure they get something out of the game.

Rafa may feel Sunday's result is two points lost but in hindsight later this season, the critics will see this result as another Moyes masterstroke, along with the points an inspired Everton can take off United and Chelsea later this month.

Everton can trouble any team on their day and the league title may be in their hands!



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