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High stakes in Merseyside derby – Everton survival battle vs Liverpool title hopes

One of the most highly anticipated games on the Liverpool fixture schedule pits them against familiar foes Everton in the 244th Merseyside derby on Wednesday. 

More than just bragging rights are at stake in the latest edition of this iconic rivalry, with the Goodison Park faithful hoping for a first Premier League home win against the Reds since 2010.

Everton’s fight for survival is still on despite winning their last two home league matches without conceding, including a pivotal 2-0 triumph against fellow relegation rivals Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Had it not been for an eight-point deduction for two separate counts of Profit and Sustainability rule breaches, Sean Dyche’s side would’ve already maintained the second-longest continuous presence in English top flight.

But these unpleasant circumstances mean the Toffees are not safe yet as they head into this mammoth clash five points clear of the bottom three, with this their last game in hand over their nearest competitors.

A game in hand for perennial champions Manchester City renders this contest a must-win for Liverpool, whose once promising-looking season is on the brink of collapse.

Crystal Palace’s unfathomable 1-0 win at Anfield ten days ago demoted the 19-time English champions to third before a 3-1 win at Fulham over the weekend moved the Reds above Man City.

However, that’s only temporary.

Pep Guardiola’s defending champions skipped the weekend schedule for their FA Cup duties, allowing Arsenal and Liverpool to move one point clear at the table’s summit. 

Match Preview

Everton stopped a lengthy period of decline to bed earlier in April, ending the club’s longest winless league run in 67 years with a narrow 1-0 home triumph against Burnley. 

Although they won their subsequent outing at Goodison, a result that came in between still haunts Dyche as Chelsea tore the Toffees to pieces in a thumping 6-0 victory in London.

It was the latest testament to Eveton’s long-standing struggles in high-profile matches, further illustrated by their dreadful record of just one win from their last 26 league meetings with Liverpool (D13, L12).

But despite last tasting home success against their cross-city rivals in 2010, they’ve kept this fixture competitive afterwards, racking up nine draws in 12 top-flight duels at Goodison since (L3).

Another stalemate would almost certainly crash Liverpool out of the title race and land a knockout blow on Klopp’s effort to conquer the Premier League for the second time in his swansong season.

Europa League elimination by Atalanta left the Reds in the running for just one trophy after February’s League Cup triumph, dismantling the club’s treble dream. 

Fans would forget that European heartache in a heartbeat if Liverpool can equal Manchester United’s outright record for 20 Premier League titles, and the omens are good ahead of this short journey.

In addition to an ongoing four-game unbeaten league streak on the road (W3, D1), the visitors have won their last 12 Wednesday-held top-flight matches by a combined score of 33-5.

Team News

Long-term absentees Dele Alli and Nathan Patterson have got company in the treatment room after Beto fell victim to a head injury against Forest.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin limped off the pitch in slight discomfort on Sunday, but he should be fit enough to spearhead Dyche’s frontline.

Conor Bradley, Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara are not available for Liverpool, although Trent Alexander-Arnold’s return from injury makes up for the former’s absence.

More importantly, Klopp will have all his standout forwards at his disposal after Diogo Jota overcame a long-term knee problem.

Everton vs Liverpool Potential Line-ups

Everton (4-4-1-1): Jordan Pickford; Ashley Young, James Tarkowski, Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitaliy Mykolenko; Jack Harrison, Amadou Onana, Idrissa Gueye, Dwight McNeil; Abdoulaye Doucoure; Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo, Alexis Mac Allister; Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz.

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