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Where Will The Merseyside Derby Be Won and Lost?: A Short Tactical Analysis

Written By: Hasib Afzal

Liverpool and Everton go head to head this Saturday in the 238th Merseyside Derby in an encounter that promises to be an absolute cracker. Both teams arrive into this fixture with contrasting fortunes. Everton continued their impressive form with a 4-2 victory over Brighton, whereas Liverpool had a night to forget, as they succumbed to a 7-2 defeat at Villa Park. Here are some of the key battles that could decide the outcome of the Merseyside Derby.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin vs Virgil Van Dijk

Dominic Calvert Lewin has continued his impressive form from the back end of last season to lead the Premier League goal scoring charts. However, and with no disrespect to Calvert-Lewin, he has yet to hold his own against the very best. In Virgil Van Djik, he will certainly face that. Van Djik himself has had an indifferent start to the season. A shaky performance against Leeds was followed up by an imperious display against Chelsea, before a humbling at the hands of Aston Villa. Carlo Ancelotti has previously said that Calvert-Lewin has the potential to be “one of Europe’s best strikers.” With a telling performance in the Merseyside Derby, he can lay claim to that. 

Adrian v Jordan Pickford

This is the tale of two keepers, who neither command the full confidence of their back four. It is not surprising then that both shot stoppers have made errors in their previous matches. Pickford knows this fixture all too well - having uncharacteristically fumbled the ball, allowing Divock Origi to score that memorable 95th minute winner in the 2018/19 season.

Equally, Adrian is also under the microscope. With Alison out of the picture, and a less than favourable performance in his last fixture, the pressure is mounting on the Spaniard. Another poor performance in the derby may cost Adrian his future with Kelleher potentially ready to step up.

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Georginio Wijnaldum v James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez has been an absolute revelation since his arrival from Real Madrid. The concerns of him being lightweight for the Premier League have faded away somewhat and Klopp will no doubt have earmarked this as a key area in the midfield.

Wijnaldum will be tasked with getting tight and cutting off the supply line to Rodriguez. Failure to do so could expose the Liverpool high line, as James is capable of finding space and threading through balls. With such high stakes, neither player will want to cost their teams,. This will most definitely be an intriguing battle. 

So who will prosper and who will falter? The Merseyside Derby promises to serve up a treat. For one side, though, it may be a bitter pill to swallow.

Edited by: Adam