The Merseyside derby. There’s nothing like it. And after a seemingly endless international break the city of Liverpool is gearing up for another titanic local tussle.
Now the players are back in the UK, both sets of fans are starting to get a little nervous for Saturday.
However, one side of Stanley Park is feeling perkier than the other right now.
Here are my thoughts on the action…
There’s a real buzz around Everton right now
As a staunch Toffee I can’t begin to describe how much Evertonians are loving life at the moment on and off the pitch.
Since their loss to Liverpool back in December, Everton have won eight and lost just one of the last 12 matches.
The Toffees were the biggest spenders in the January transfer window and last week’s news of a new stadium on the Liverpool waterfront just tops off a wonderful few months for the blue half of Merseyside.
Both sets of fans would take a draw but bank on goals
When the fixtures are released in the summer, this is the first match you look out for.
But deep down, if you were to secretly ask most fans, they’d take two draws a season.
The thought of heading back to work on the Monday morning after a derby day defeat is too tough to take.
If you’re a neutral, then there’s only one way to go.
Goals pay the rent, although in Everton’s case they didn’t back in 1892!
Joking aside, with Romelu Lukaku, Sadio Mane, Phillipe Coutinho and Ross Barkley all on the same pitch together, goals should be a certainty.
For a bit of value, try a couple of quid on Both Teams To Score in Both Halves.
Lukaku is a Blues’ best bet
You just can’t look further than the league’s top scorer at the moment in Romelu Lukaku.
He has a very good record against Liverpool for both West Brom and Everton and you’ve got to fancy him enhancing that against a defence that has kept only one clean sheet in the previous 10 matches.
Lukaku to score at any time is the one.
Milner is the go-to man for Reds
Liverpool’s home form has been impressive this season with only Everton, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur picking up more points on home soil.
With that, the Reds will be a tough nut to crack but I like the value in James Milner as an anytime scorer.
Added to that, he’s so reliable from the penalty spot as we’ve seen many times this season.
Form out of the window? Don’t believe that myth
It’s no coincidence that Liverpool have won a lot more derbies in recent years, simply due to the fact they’ve had better players at the time.
Everton’s last win against Liverpool came in 2010 when David Moyes’s Everton had too much for Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool.
Better players win big games.
My favourite derby moment? Big Kevin Campbell takes the honours
Where do I start when it comes to recalling my favourite Merseyside derby moments?
Andrei Kanchelskis in 1996, Andy Johnson in 2006…
Both are fond memories but I’d have to go for Kevin Campbell in 1999 at Anfield.
I was sat in The Kop that night and it was packed with Evertonians.
You can clearly see all the Everton fans celebrating behind the goal when Campbell slots home.
Pre-match, I’d arranged to meet my Liverpool supporting mates after the whistle regardless of the result.
Surprisingly, they didn’t show!
Merseyside loves the big occasion
It’s a gigantic sporting week on Merseyside with eyes from all over the world focusing on the city for the next seven days.
The Merseyside Derby, The Liverpool Half Marathon, a world title fight for Liverpool boxer Liam Smith. Oh, and the Grand National…
It’s a week that the people of Liverpool will embrace and myself more than most can’t wait for the action to unfold.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing