Liverpool vs Everton
...in the shape of the Europa League most likely.
So how will this match affect those chances and who will finish above who of the two Scouse teams for city bragging rights, come the end of the season? Let's look at the odds and analyise this match-up for our weekend soccer picks!
A win for the red half of Merseyside and both clubs can expect next season to be unencumbered by any fixtures in Europe and all they will have left to play for this season will be bragging rights for 6th and 7th place.
A win for the blue half and Everton will be right there in the mix for Europe, especially if other results go their way. A draw is of little use to either side!
Ladbrokes and bet365 both have Liverpool as EVENS favourite in this one
but differ slightly with Everton, offered to win at 13/5 and
11/4 respectively. The draw is at 5/2 with William Hill and Ladbrokes or
at 12/5 with bet365.
This is an interesting one for all of the normal reasons cited when the two sides of Liverpool come together for the Merseyside Derby. The history, the emotion, the 'friendly derby', fans mixing but the families divided and all that, the memories of glories past and how form and league position go out the window in this one!
Well, the only problem with that this time out is right now, they sit side by side sixth and seventh in the league with Everton five points better off than their fiercest rivals, but with both teams in almost identical form of late with just three losses, five draws and 12 wins in their last 20 games between them.
Also, since the mid-1980s it hasn't been quite so friendly, the rivalry has intensified on and off the field, and since the inception of the Premier League the Merseyside derby has had more red cards than any other game, thus has been referred to as "The most ill-disciplined and explosive fixture in the Premier League".
It is most certainly a clash of two of THE form teams in the EPL right now. Liverpool have lost just one in ten, winning six, whilst Everton have also won six but lost twice their last ten games. Everton have netted 14 times to Liverpool's incredible 26 goals in that time and have amassed 20 points from a possible 30 to Liverpool's 21 from 30. Like I said, almost identical.
For once, however, it is Everton who have it all to play for, and more, not Liverpool. Last weekends 1-0 win against Fulham was their fifth straight home win in the league and a fourth without conceding. It also had them close on fifth place by two points!
Steven Pienaar got the solitary goal in that one and has now scored 10 goals in 46 Premier League matches since returning to Everton from Spurs. He is 14/1 to score first and 11/2 to net anytime. Top scorer Marouane Fellaini is 8/1 and 11/4 those same two bets.
Everton will head into the derby at Anfield with revived hopes of making the Europa League after Tottenham could only draw 2-2 at struggling Wigan last time out to sit just three points ahead of the Toffees with three weekend's of the EPL season left. If they finish above Liverpool for the second successive season it will be the first time since 1962 they have achieved that feat too.
2-2 was the score in October when these two met at Goodison Park, Everton coming back from a two goal deficit with all the goals coming in the first half and first half hour or so!
A repeat of that scoreline is at 14/1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill and the double result of Draw/Draw is at 9/2 with bet365. The over 3.5 is at 2/1 with William Hill.
A win for Spurs at home to Southampton this Saturday, a game I have previewed right here with SBRForum.com, and Liverpool will know they cannot qualify for Europe next season. That result then, could well have quite an effect on the attitude of the two teams coming into this one a day later.
Funnily enough, Everton will want Liverpool deflated by a Spurs win and what it means to them, but will be even happier with a draw or defeat for Tottenham which could allow them to close on fifth place with a win. Everton are 33/1 to finish top four and earn a Champions League spot.
In reality, Liverpool should be on cloud nine after the week they just had with the Suarez biting affair turning to pure gold with the 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle. An emphatic victory which included two goals from both Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, plus a first league goal in Liverpool colours for Fabio Borini, who was returning from long term injury, a fact his smart instinctive finish did not betray.
Both Everton and Spurs will be hoping Man Utd do them a favour and defeat Chelsea later on Sunday as they both have to travel to Stamford Bridge to face them still, and with Chelsea three points more above Spurs, which is where it gets even more complicated;
Chelsea have to go to Man Utd, Tottenham have to go to Chelsea and Everton have to go to Chelsea, all leaving Arsenal with the seemingly easiest of all the run-ins to the end of the season, facing three bottom six clubs!
All this and the outside chance that both could still qualify for the Champions League if they win this weekend, Spurs especially, though for Everton it is a more distant hope but a hope nonetheless as all both sides have to do is defeat Chelsea!
As if all that wasn't motivation enough, the future of Manager David Moyes may well rest on whether Everton can reach Europe and he will be acutely aware that he has never won at Anfield.
has also never won a league game at Arsenal, Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford
and that tells you that Everton seem to have a problem performing in
these big away games.
His teams have beaten them all at Goodison Park over the years yes, but the next step is what it is all about. If they really want to play among the big boys at home and in Europe then they have to win this weekend and go to Chelsea and win there too, nothing less will do.
Daniel Sturridge has scored 7 in 11 games since joining from Chelsea and with that and the return of Borini from injury, the loss of Luis Suarez to a ten match ban did nothing but highlight that there is actually some other talent at Liverpool. He may have 23 goals to his name but Liverpool have scored from 14 other sources this season.
Steven Gerrard is the leading scorer of derby goals by players currently playing for either team, some distance ahead of other current players with derby goals to their credit, namely Liverpool's Luis Suárez (3) and Andy Carroll (2), and Everton's Sylvain Distin, Nikica Jelavic, Leon Osman and Steven Naismith, with 1 goal each.
You can find soccer betting odds on all these players adding to their derby
tally this weekend right here at SBRForum.com.
Neither Carroll, on loan to West Ham, nor Suarez, serving game two of a ten match ban, will figure of course, but my pick for the best value is Leighton Baines to score first or last at 20/1 or 7/1 to score anytime. He has netted five times from left-back this season so far and has an eye for the spectacular strike.
Sturridge is 9/2 to score first or last and 5/1 to net a brace for the
second week in a row, all with William Hill.
January signing Philippe Coutinho has provided the spark in Suarez's absence, with the Brazilian, thanks to his direct running and incisive passing, at the heart of Liverpool's attacks in recent games.
He, Sturridge and Borini will be very important as Liverpool will face six games without Suarez at the start of the 2013/14 season in August. Coutinho is 7/1 to score first or last and 2/1 anytime with William Hill. Fabio Borini is the same as Coutinho across the board with those prices and 10/1 to net a brace with William Hill.
I think this may be a stretch too far for Everton, though with so much riding on it there really is an air of now or never for Moyes side, in my opinion. It could be the beginning or the end for them, it's that big a game!
Home win for me at EVENS and the double result of Everton/Liverpool at 25/1 both with William Hill. A goal in the first or last five minutes at 13/2 with bet365.
Check out our tip on the HUGE match-up between Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich~