Can crisis-hit Liverpool, Everton save their season?

Liverpool are without a victory in their past four league games and suffered a humbling defeat at Wolves in their last game.

Everton's Amadou Onana (R) vies for the ball with Liverpool's Luis Diaz during a Premier League match
Everton's Amadou Onana (R) vies for the ball with Liverpool's Luis Diaz during a Premier League match
Image: FILE

It is a Merseyside derby that will see two clubs in crisis situations come up against each other.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side go into tonight’s Premier League meeting at Anfield in freefall. They are without a victory in their past four league games and suffered a humbling defeat at Wolves in their last game.

Sean Dyche, meanwhile, enjoyed a dream start as Everton manager last weekend with victory over leaders Arsenal but his side remains in the relegation zone.

How bad has it been for Liverpool?

Liverpool were on the cusp of footballing immortality last season; now they face the ignominy of failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Their hold on the FA Cup and Carabao Cup trophies has already been relinquished, and the out-of-form Reds also face a huge battle in the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition, coming up against Real Madrid, who they lost to in last season’s final.

But it is their league form that has been most alarming. They face a monumental challenge to finish in the top four given they are currently in 10th place, 12 points adrift of Newcastle.

After 20 games this season and a 3-0 thumping by Wolves in the most recent outing, they have already conceded 28 goals, two more than in the entirety of last term, when they finished second — just one point behind champions Manchester City.

“Liverpool have become a soft touch; there is no energy,” former England captain Alan Shearer said on Match of the Day. “They are putting no pressure on the ball, it is just too easy. Klopp is not getting anywhere near enough out of that Liverpool team. You can moan about lack of investment, moan about players being tired physically but that first half against Wolves was just not acceptable.”

The Reds have enjoyed a sustained period of success under German boss Klopp but face a range of issues including an ageing squad which requires a rebuild in midfield, prolonged injury issues to key players — Thiago being the latest — and a possible sale of the club by the summer.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said on Sky Sports: “There was money there for a midfield player in the summer, they tried to get the lad (23-year-old French international Aurelien Tchouameni) that went to Real Madrid and they couldn’t get him.

“Jurgen Klopp and his staff then decided ‘we don’t need to sign a midfield player’ — that is on them. Then from day one at Fulham, they haven’t been able to cope with the intensity of a Premier League game of football and they have been ran over in virtually every game they have played.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche
Everton manager Sean Dyche
Image: FILE

Hope for Everton under Dyche?

Everton began their previous game without a win in 11 games in all competitions, a new manager in the hot seat and thousands of fans marching down Goodison Road protesting about the club’s ownership.

They ended the day with three points after a battling victory over league leaders Arsenal and now have real hope of escaping relegation and avoiding the prospect of ending an unbroken top-flight stay dating back to 1954.

The Toffees sold academy product Anthony Gordon to Newcastle for £40m last month and failed to make a single signing but even so, the transformation under Dyche in just a short space of time was evident last weekend.

Everton enjoyed a ‘new manager bounce’ as they outfought the Gunners with a display full of fight and determination — everything that was missing under former manager Frank Lampard. It was just their fourth league victory of the campaign and it left them in the relegation zone.

“It is a start point,” said Dyche afterwards. “It doesn’t guarantee the next one, that is what I have learned.”

Former Everton defender Ashley Williams said: “Sean Dyche is the kind of character that has come in and given everyone a boost.

“They looked fit and up for it (against Arsenal) — and if they continue to do that, the fans will get right behind them.”

The visitors could be without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is described as “touch and go” with a hamstring issue.

Everton’s derby misery

Everton’s record against Liverpool in the Premier League is not great, with 10 victories in 61 meetings.

The Toffees have one win in their past 24 league games against Liverpool (D13 L10). That win was at Anfield in February 2021 under Carlo Ancelotti.

Their shock 1-0 win over Arsenal last time out came despite having just 28 per cent possession, so how do they get at Liverpool tonight?

Well, Liverpool have conceded the first goal in 12 of their 20 top-flight games this term so netting the opener and then staying organised like they did against Arsenal might do the job.

How crucial will it be for both teams to contain the counter-attacks? Everton have conceded the most goals (7) from opponents breaking clear this term, while Liverpool are next on the list with five.

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during a past match
Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gestures during a past match
Image: FILE

How important is the derby to both teams?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “After the game we played against Wolves, we have to show a reaction again. I know our people want to see that — we have to show that.

“This is not a time we wanted to have or a time we are happy to be in but I think it is a time where we can show, if we want to, that the club is really special.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche: “A derby game, big game, new experience for me. Form goes out of the window but the feel of the game can affect the performance. I was looking for a reaction and performance against Arsenal. Can we give another one of the back of last week?

“You want to exploit anything in a game of football. I have been doing a lot of work with the players in that feel; it is not about one thing, it is about everything. Can we play and perform better than them?

‘Reds fail to resolve vulnerabilities’

Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at Nielsen’s Gracenote, said: “Liverpool have conceded first in 12 of their Premier League matches this season, twice as many matches as they had conceded in first by this stage of last season and at least three times as many as their best seasons under Klopp after 20 matches.

“Only Southampton (17), West Ham (14) and Bournemouth (13), all currently in the Premier League’s bottom five, have conceded the opening goal more frequently than Liverpool this term.

“This vulnerability was already present towards the end of last season when Liverpool conceded first in all of their last four matches of 2021-2022. The Reds have therefore conceded first in 16 of their past 24 Premier League games.

“Everton have scored first at Anfield in just one Premier League match in the past 20 years. Two years ago, Richarlison scored first and Everton won 2-0 to record their only Premier League win at Anfield this century.”