Previewing the Merseyside Derby (UPDATED)

Everton and Liverpool last met in late October, when the teams produced an eventful 2-2 draw at Goodison Park That result left Everton in fifth place, 8 places ahead of their cross-park rivals. Looking ahead, I wrote that “there’s a good chance [the two teams] will be close together in the Table when the Derby is played at Liverpool in early May.”

Sure enough, with the Derby set for Sunday, Everton now sits in sixth place, one spot (and 5 points) ahead of Liverpool.

Sixth place in the Premier League is usually good enough to qualify a team for European competition. But this year, due to a complicated set of circumstances, it will not be. And Everton’s chances of nipping Tottenham Hotspur for fifth place are quite slim.

To have any chance at all, we must win the Derby. But that’s a tall order. Everton haven’t won at Liverpool for more than 13 years.

A draw would go a long way towards enabling us to finish ahead of Liverpool — a big deal for Everton. But The Shite, who have nothing to play for except avoiding the embarrassment of finishing behind us for a second straight season, will be determined to take all three points.

Sylvain Distin, our fine central defender, has added fuel to the fire by tweeting that he feels sad for Liverpool fans for having so little to cheer about his year. Distin’s dreadful mistake in last year’s FA Cup semi-final sparked a comeback that saw Liverpool through to the final. His aggressive tweet apparently was a response to stick he’s been receiving from Liverpool fans on the internet.

Stuff like this helps make the Derby what it is.

Seventh place, or even sixth, does represent a sad season for a team with Liverpool’s tradition, aspirations, and spending level. However, Liverpool has played brilliantly at times, and their goal difference is superior to that of Everton and Tottenham. Which, I suppose, makes their unsatisfactory position in the Table all the more frustrating.

Everton is nearly at full strength for the match. Liverpool will be without super-star Luis Suarez. He received a 10 game ban for biting a Chelsea defender two weeks ago. But Liverpool responded by drubbing Newcastle United 6-0 last week, at Newcastle, without Suarez.

I’ll update this post with the result, or else write a full post about the match, depending on the outcome.

UPDATE: The Derby produced a 0-0 draw in what the match announcer aptly described as “underwhelming fare.” The only quality on display came from Liverpool’s great captain Steven Gerrard and our two center backs, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.

Distin nearly got his revenge against the Shite fans who have been taunting him. He headed home a set piece, but the goal was disallowed due to a dubious call against Big Vic Anichebe.

But Everton certainly did not deserve a victory today; we barely deserved the draw. At the end of a long season, we seem to have run out of ideas.

And our fine manager David Moyes may have run out of patience. The word is that he may well leave what he once described as “The People’s Club” for a team that can provide him with more resources.


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