Where the Merseyside derby will be won and lost
Liverpool face Everton this weekend in one of the most significant Merseyside derbies in recent memory.
Liverpool have usually had the better of their neighbours from across Stanley Park but they appear to be in free-fall at this moment in time – losing three of their last five Premier League fixtures.
Everton had been in a similar state of malaise but the decision to dismiss Frank Lampard and replace him with Sean Dyche appears to have been a masterstroke – they will hope to have turned a corner.
Ahead of Monday evening’s clash under the floodlights at Anfield, we used the Twenty3 Toolbox to break down where the game could be won and lost.
Liverpool come into this game on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Wolves.
Joël Matip’s own goal got things off to a rotten start only for Craig Dawson and Rúben Neves to compound the Reds’ misery. They are 10th in the Premier League – 11 points off a Champions League place.
Everton, on the other hand, come into the game on a high after just beating Arsenal 1-0 at Goodison Park.
A fine header from James Tarkowski got the Dyche era off to a flying start and stemmed the bleeding that had appeared fatal under Lampard. The Toffees are now just one point shy of safety, with 18 to their name.
Under the hood
Analysing the underlying numbers for both of these sides makes for interesting reading.
Both teams have conceded 28 Premier League goals – but Liverpool have scored 34, while Everton have netted just 16 times.
It is clear that the Reds boast a sharper attack than their upcoming opponents from across Stanley Park – they have scored more goals from open play (21 to 10), registered more shots on target (117 to 73), created more chances (251 to 149) and completed more take-ons (132 to 116).
Liverpool have also been moving the ball with a great deal more confidence than the Toffees. They have taken more touches (15,572 to 12,452) as well as completing more passes (9,692 to 6,781), passes into the final third (2,251 to 1,479), through-balls (23 to 10), long balls (639 to 543) and crosses (119 to 80).
Defensively, Everton have had a lot more work to get through than the Reds despite shipping the same number of goals. The Toffees have won more tackles (383 to 294), interceptions (200 to 190) and aerial duels (266 to 244), but still conceded more shots on goal (335 to 211).
Football matches are often won and lost in key moments by key players – the Merseyside derby is no different. Each side has integral men in their ranks that could be the difference between victory and defeat.
From an attacking perspective, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah will be the most dangerous player on the pitch. He has contributed seven goals and four assists in the 1,777 minutes of Premier League football that he has played so far this season – far from his usual numbers, but still impressive.
Leading Everton’s line – depending on a late fitness test – will be Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He has struggled with injury but does the work of two strikers when he is firing on all cylinders. That has been infrequent of late, however – he has contributed just one goal in 735 minutes of Premier League football this season.
From a defensive standpoint, it is likely to be the midfield battle that decides things. Thiago is the main man in Liverpool’s engine room – the Spain international has won a team-high 41 tackles as well as making 18 interceptions. He has also completed 837 of his 971 attempted passes.
In the blue corner, however, there is a young tyro primed with ambition and confidence in the shape of Amadou Onana. The Belgium international has been indomitable this season and the metrics back that up – he has won a team-high 50 tackles as well as making 19 interceptions and winning 33 aerial duels while, on the ball, he has completed 529 of his 623 attempted passes.
It will be fascinating to see who can claim the bragging rights at Anfield tonight.
All graphics in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.