Two weeks ago we were looking forward to it, but as usual an international break does wonders to dampen the enthusiasm. Results hadn't been good for us early in the season, but we'd only had two bad performances. A morale-boosting away win, and your lot not pulling up any trees - we couldn't wait to get to this game. Since then though we've lost three players from the squad through injury and been bored to death by non-football stories.
What kind of derby are you expecting this time round?
Quite frankly, similar to last season. Us passing the ball beautifully from left to right and back - without going anywhere. Whilst you systematically boot us off the park. The reverse of previous seasons hasn't been lost on us! We're just baffled as to how we STILL end up on the losing side!
What's behind your dodgy start to the season?
An excellent question, one I'm struggling to nail down. We've had a couple of injuries, but our squad is much stronger than in recent times. Our bench has had the sort of options we could only dream of last season. Obviously the lack of available quality up top doesn't help. Injuries have kept Saha out and Yakubu below par, however this isn't the sole issue. The latter half of last season we had worse times fielding strikers, and still strung results together. Balance on the right has also been an issue. Again though, not a problem to suddenly manifest itself this season. As we improve, teams play more defensive against us. We lack a little nouse creatively around the box.
Anyone need to buck up their ideas?
Anyone sat behind a keyboard that suddenly thinks we can currently do better than Moyes at the helm. That's not to say a couple of the players haven't been below the standards they set themselves. However, I don't think any of them are hiding from the facts. What we need to do is string a couple of good results together. The derby, then Spurs, being a great opportunity to do so.
Everton players we should be worried about?
Fellaini, Jagielka, Pienaar, Rodwell, Saha, Anichebe all injured. Oh, you mean during the game? As you can no doubt guess from the lack of summer deals at Goodison, we'll have few new names. Gueye may be one to look out for if we are struggling for width, however I suspect he will have to bide his time a little longer. Cahill looks like being our major threat again this weekend. No real surprise there.
Three names you'd like to see missing from our teamsheet?
Kuyt, he is one of those players his fans love, and the opposition hate (much like Cahill for us). He also has a nasty habit of finding the back of our net. An injury on international duty seems to have made his inclusion slim. Reina - quite simply because he is an excellent 'keeper. The next I'd like to see missing is Carragher because he wrestles like it's WWE.
Key battle on the pitch?
Both out of position, Carragher at left-back and Coleman at right midfield should be an interesting match-up if it occurs. We have high hopes for Coleman, but not in midfield. He has appeared to balance up our team recently though. What he lacks tactically, he makes up for with a good engine and very attacking instincts. The returning Torres must be looking forward to a defensive line-up missing Jagielka. How Heitinga deals with a return to centre-back against Torres should also be a key battle.
Favourite and least favourite Goodison derby memory?
I'm fortunate enough to be affected by time and wine in such a way that distant heartbreaks soon fade. I've got enough to remember with the previous two 2-0 defeats in the league games at Goodison. They managed to swing between a spineless capitulation and a daylight robbery. As for favourite, certainly from the recent era, Riena's face as AJ scored the third.
Is there a bigger game in your calendar?
At the start of the season the derby games are still the ones we look out for. The only bigger games will be any we earn via a semi-final or better in a cup. Another early summer trip to Wembley and the derby games are back in the pile with the rest - unless we won of course!
I was confident both times last season, and miserably wrong. On paper we should be favourites this time as well - which is a bad omen. We seem to perform better as the underdog. I just can't see past you grabbing a goal. So I'm going to have to dig out my lucky socks and go with Cahill sneaking an 85th minute winner, 2-1.