The two clubs have endured mixed starts to the season…
At the beginning of this season, Merseyside would have been full of hope. Liverpool were coming off the back of a runners up spot, and Everton had just managed to finish with their highest ever points total of the Premier League era.
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However, all of that early season hope has dissipated as both sides have experienced poor starts to the season. Liverpool currently lie in ninth and Everton twelfth, with neither looking too likely to get themselves out of the mire before the new year. Why has this happened?
For Liverpool there have been two fairly obvious reasons. The loss of Luis Suarez and the poor use of the funds from his sale thereafter. The Uruguayan was key for the Reds title challenge last time round, making up for the holes in their defence by scoring and creating more goals than they were letting in at the other end. The real crime has been the way that they have spent the fee they received for him though.
The Anfield club spent the majority of their money on gambles such as Mario Balotelli, or players with promise such as Lazar Markovic. Adam Lallana is the only one to have come out with any credit, and he was wildly overpriced. The situation with the new signings has not been helped by the way in which Steven Gerrard has aged, Simon Mignolet’s form, and Daniel Sturridge’s injuries. Manager Brendan Rodgers can also take some flak for attempting to play in the same way as last season without his best player and with an out of form team.
So their terrible start can be put down to poor summer business coupled with the deterioration of the players left from last season, but what can Everton blame for theirs?
The Toffees poor start is made even more perplexing by their great form in Europe. They are currently unbeaten in what is a very tough group, and have already qualified in first place for the next round with a game to go. On the other hand, their league form has been dodgy. This can not be completely down to the extra fatigue from the European games, although that has played a part.
Roberto Martinez’s men have suffered from an abnormal amount of injuries so far, leaving Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka as their only senior centre-backs, and youngsters such as Luke Garbutt and Tyias Browning getting their chances in the first team. The earlier loss of Ross Barkley also hurt, and new record signing Romelu Lukaku having to play through injury hasn’t helped.
Added to that has been an inability to hold on to a lead. Their propensity to sit deep after going ahead has cost them, with many winning positions being lost. They are now a team low on confidence and struggling back in to form in a similar manner to their Stanley park neighbours.
So the rest of the campaign could be a long old slog for last season’s success stories, and their managers will have some hard work ahead of them to catch their competitors. However they still have time, and if their players can find some of the form from last season, then it is well within them to get back in to the top four race.