Matthew Sinton compares this year’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park to last year’s.
Over a year has passed since our last trip to Goodison park in October 2015 and things couldn’t be more different now than they were then. Since our 1-1 draw fourteen months ago, how has the team and the mood of the fans developed?
The most obvious change is the managerial one. A game which saw us take the lead through a Danny Ings goal – him in the first team certainly seems a distant memory now – but ended 1-1 from a Lukaku equaliser proved to be Brendan Rodgers’ last game in charge of the club, as he lost his job later that day. He gave us some good memories (especially in 2014) and I’ll never have a bad word to say about him, but things weren’t looking up and it was time for him to go. What followed was something fans would have thought nothing but a dream; our next manager was none other than Jurgen Klopp.
And what a ride, what a first year it’s been. Jurgen’s first season had its highs and lows (for every 4-1 over City or win over Dortmund was a Watford or Sevilla result) but it was a season of much progress. In fact, we absolutely embarrassed Everton in the reverse fixture, putting four goals past them with ease.
So why are we so much more capable of winning the game this time? With the league being our main focus this season, we have really pushed on and sit in second going into the Derby. Everton, on the other hand, are ninth. They are actually unbeaten at home but have been in dreadful form since September, only winning two Premier League games in the past three months following a promising start to the season.
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Many of our individuals have drastically improved since our last visit to Goodison, in particular, Adam Lallana. He definitely improved in the second half of last season but his end product was still inconsistent, producing seven goals and eight assists in all competitions, four goals and six assists of that coming in the league. He has taken his game and end product to the next level this season and already has 6 goals and six assists in the league so far. Emre Can has also carried much more of a goalscoring threat this season, albeit not consistently starting. Divock Origi, who was a forgotten man last time we played Everton away, has now scored five in his last five and is arguably one of the best young talents in football right now.
He has taken his game and end product to the next level this season and already has six goals and six assists in the league so far. Emre Can has also carried much more of a goalscoring threat this season, albeit not consistently starting. Divock Origi, who was a forgotten man last time we played Everton away, has now scored five in his last five and is arguably one of the best young talents in football right now. He and Lallana, in particular, are prime examples of how Klopp can turn it around for a player.
We now have a much better, deeper squad with our newest signings. Sadio Mane has been an instant success, Wijnaldum something of a silent hero, Joel Matip a rock at the back and Ragnar Klavan has proved to be more than capable of doing a job when he is needed.
Although we have suffered a fair few injuries recently, we should have a strong enough team to win the game tonight. It won’t be easy but I’m going into this derby with a lot of optimism.