The opposition lowdown: Everton

MatchThe opposition lowdown: Everton

By Joe Urquhart


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Get the lowdown on Everton ahead of Liverpool's Premier League fixture at Goodison Park this evening.

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Everton enter tonight's 244th Merseyside derby on the back of a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at home last Sunday.

The Toffees have lost just once in their last four, which came at Chelsea, with a home win against Burnley and a draw away at Newcastle United preceding the defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Opposition view

Patrick Boyland, Everton correspondent at The Athletic

On the Blues' key players this season...

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Everton's strength this season under Sean Dyche has been their defending. Only two sides – Arsenal and Liverpool – have conceded fewer goals from open play, with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and central defensive duo James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite all excelling. Only Arsenal's David Raya has managed more clean sheets than Pickford so far this season.

The picture is different in attack, where Everton have really struggled in front of goal. But keep an eye out for Dwight McNeil's inswinging corners from the right, as set-pieces are a key part of Dyche's game plan.

On Dyche's style of play...

Dyche prefers direct football, often eschewing build-up play in favour of early passes into the lone striker. Contrary to belief, they do tend to press high and look to force the opposition into mistakes. But this has caused problems more recently, and they were thumped 6-0 at Chelsea last Monday.

Dyche's response was to move away from his usual 4-4-1-1 against Nottingham Forest, deploying a 4-1-4-1 with Idrissa Gueye at the base of midfield and Abdoulaye Doucoure and Andre Gomes pushed on as the No.8s. It was far from perfect, but it did offer them some more solidity.

I suppose the big question here is whether he tries to press Liverpool high again or adopts a more cautious, pragmatic approach with more men behind the ball. It wouldn't be a huge surprise if he plumped for the latter.

Predicted line-up

The challenge for Dyche is going to be how he manages his resources given the run of three games in seven days. Can veterans like Gueye and Ashley Young go again so soon after the win against Forest?

It's hard to know how he'll approach this one but, at full strength, it'd usually look something like this: (4-4-1-1) Pickford; Young, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko; Harrison, Gueye, Garner, McNeil; Doucoure; Calvert-Lewin.

Everton v Liverpool: Merseyside derby team news

MatchEverton v Liverpool: Merseyside derby team newsJürgen Klopp spoke of the importance of ‘fresh legs’ when he comes to select his XI to face Everton in Wednesday’s Merseyside derby.

Squad news

Everton boss Dyche confirmed striker Beto will miss the match having suffered a head injury late in the game versus Forest.

The Blues remain hopeful Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be fit and available, while captain Seamus Coleman is ruled out due to a groin injury, alongside Nathan Patterson (hamstring), Lewis Dobbin (ankle) and Dele Alli (groin).

Previous meetings

In the reverse fixture in October, Liverpool secured a 2-0 victory over Everton at Anfield, thanks to a double from Mohamed Salah, with his first coming from the penalty spot.

Jürgen Klopp's side are unbeaten in their last five fixtures against their city rivals, having won four and drawn one in that time.

What they said

Everton manager Dyche

"It's an old-fashioned term, but win your headers, win your tackles and win your races. That used to be a big thing when I was playing and it's still kind of there, really. That's your own individual moment in a game when you are dealing with whoever you are playing against.

"That's for every position. You can win your battles in a different way. If you are a centre-forward, you might win it with your cleverness, rather than your physicality. So there are different ways to win your battles.

"I don't think that goes anywhere other than the start point of a team game. You have to know what your role is against that player, but also your covering role as part of a team unit. So, therefore, rather than worry about each battle, there has to also be connectivity with the team. That's where the shape becomes important, the tactics and the delivery of a physical performance to cover the ground needed.

"You want those individual battles for each player to also connect as a team. If you get that right you have a better chance of getting what you want, which is to win."



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