CB: It’s the Merseyside derby, David Moyes v Kenny Dalglish, Blues v Reds, Everton v Liverpool and Will Boot v David Segar in Shouting the Odds. Who’s going to win this one?
WB: Liverpool are in poor form away from home at the moment having lost their last two without scoring a goal. And Everton are hard to beat at Goodison – they’ve only lost once in their last 14 games at home. And although the Toffees had the toughest start to the season, I was actually quite encouraged by the way they played against City – they looked really organised as you’d expect and Liverpool will find it really difficult to break them down. So it’ll be a draw at worst for Everton, but I reckon they’ll do enough to sneak a win at 19/10. And those are attractive odds by the way.
DS: I’m not so sure about Everton’s form at home. Everton have already lost to QPR and drawn with Villa at Goodison this season, and haven’t looked as settled to me as in recent years. 3/2 seems like a good price for the Red half of the city to reign supreme and grab the early season bragging rights on Merseyside. And particularly when you consider the back story. The last time Kenny Dalglish stood in the Goodison Park dugout as Liverpool manager, he was considering his impending resignation. Over twenty years later and the King returns to avenge the incredible 4-4 draw from February 1991. His modern Reds got a much needed win against Wolves last week, albeit a rather nervy one, and will fancy their chances on Saturday. The Toffees were worthy winners in this fixture last season, but Mikel Arteta, now of Arsenal, was the key instrument in that win, and with a returning Gerrard and an on-song Suarez, Liverpool will be raring to go when Martin Atkinson blows that whistle
CB: So you see it as being fairly comfortable then David?
DS: Well I wouldn’t go that far. As mentioned before, twenty years ago this fixture finished 4-4. Ten years ago, a last minute 40-yard winner from Gary ‘Zinedine’ McAllister saw Liverpool triumph 3-2. But will the pattern of exciting Mersey derby goal-fests continue? Nah. Neither team has been involved in a game with more than four goals this season, and neither has yet scored more than three in any game. Traditionally, derbies have never been packed with goals, and such is the importance to both teams of winning, any scoring of goals could well be followed by a shift from attacking to staunch defending of a precious and potentially family-feud winning lead. So I’m backing Liverpool to win and under 3.5 combined goals to be scored in the game at 2/1.
WB: I’ve got to agree (partially) with David there – I can’t see too many goals in this fixture either. I think David Moyes will ask his team to keep things tight and the game will be decided by the odd goal – although unlike David I reckon it will be Everton who nick it rather than Liverpool. Either way, I think any team to win by exactly one goal difference looks good at 5/4.
CB: What about the final score?
WB: With Liverpool goalless in their last two away fixtures and Everton likely to stay compact throughout the 90 minutes, the Toffees could be in line to keep their second clean sheet of the season. And as they are unlikely to offer too much of an attacking threat, a 1-0 victory will do them just nicely at odds of 15/2.
DS: Seeing as I am backing there to be less than four goals in the game, I think I’ll go for Liverpool to win it ‘best out of three’. The Reds have won their previous two games by two goals to one against Brighton and Wolves, and at 17/2, I’d back them to make it a hat-trick. Everton haven’t looked quite as assured at the back at home as in previous years, conceding four goals in their three games at Goodison in the league. Liverpool have recorded just one clean sheet themselves this season, so it would be no shock to see Pepe Reina’s sheet muddied in the early kick-off.
CB: Well both of you can see Everton scoring then – who’s most likely to get on the scoresheet for the Toffees Will?
WB: That’s a tough one. Everton have played without a striker in their last two league matches, suggesting Tim Cahill would be a good shout. But the Australian is enduring a poor run of form in front of goal, so I’m going to steer clear of him. With this likely to be a fiercely-contested battle, I’m going to go for Leighton Baines – and only because he takes Everton’s penalties. The Toffees have had two penalties given for them already this season, which is more than any other team in the division save Blackburn, who have also had two spot-kicks. Baines to score first is available at 14/1
CB: And what about Liverpool, David?
DS: Derby matches are for the brave, for the fighters, for the workhorse, and nothing says workhorse like Dirk Kuyt (that isn’t a joke about his teeth by the way). The Dutchman has an impressive record in this fixture, hitting the Toffees’ net five times since his Anfield move in 2006. He has made just four starts for Liverpool this season, but in a game such as this, could well be called on to bring the belly fire. He could be on penalty duty as well as three of his goals against Everton have come from the spot, so 2/1 to score anytime looks like one of the better value bets in the market.
CB: Have any other bets caught your eye?
WB: Red cards. As David says, this fixture isn’t for the faint-hearted. Everton have a number of players willing to put their boot in – Cahill and Marouane Fellaini to name but two – and with Liverpool’s line-up featuring the likes of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel, two or more reds at 29/4 looks tempting.
DS: Looking back on the recent history of this fixture, the timings of the goals seems to have been fairly even between first and second halves. However, on Saturday I’m fairly confident the second half will prevail. There were no red cards in either Merseyside derby last season for the first time since the 06-07 campaign, and that surely can’t continue, not when there’s so much city pride riding on it. As your maths teacher will have told you, less players on the pitch should mean more goals, so 23/20 seems a safe bet to me to see more goals scored in the second 45 at Goodison. Especially given the strength likely to be on the Red bench in Gerrard.