Everton and Liverpool enduring mixed fortunes ahead of Mersey Mash-Up

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Everton and Liverpool have two very different issues on their plate this past Thursday. The news at Goodison, that Cahill, Gravesen and wunderkind James Vaughan are all set to return has most Evertonians bouncing around with unbridled glee. On the other side of Stanley Park meanwhile, Rafa and his rotation boys are pondering making Javier Mascerano’s move to Anfield permanent, which could open up a huge can of worms.

Everton’s Tim Cahill hasn’t played a single game this season because of a foot injury, and his return along with that of mad Dane Tommy Gravesen will add extra depth to Everton’s midfield. So emaciated is Everton’s midfield that defenders Jagielka and Phil Neville have been the regular central midfield pairing.

James Vaughan’s return from injury is also timely, with Andy Johnson facing weeks out after his groin operation, and will give Moyes further options up front. Whereas Gravesen and Cahill are pushing hard for a Merseyside derby return Vaughan will have to wait until later. Seeing as Vaughan is not only Everton’s youngest goalscorer, but has also had to cope with a cavalcade of horrendous injuries akin to starring in a ‘Saw’ sequel (severed arteries, dislocated limbs, and a cruciate), as a result Moyes is prepared to ease him back slowly…

Rafa Benitez meanwhile has to untangle the unfathomable and murky mess that Javier Mascerano has deposited on his desk (we’re talking about his contract). Although Liverpool are understood to be keen on the Argentinian the Times is reporting that Mascerano’s slave-owner wants £17 million for him.

Rafael Benítez, the Liverpool manager, is determined to keep Mascherano and also try and wangle a cheaper price than the extortionate money being asked. Perhaps he could sell Peter Crouch into slavery in exchange for Mascerano’s freedom? Whatever the case Rafa had better get his skates on, Real Madrid are sniffing around – although Mascerano himself has indicated that he would be over the moon to stay at Anfield. Mascerano said:

“I love playing for Liverpool and, if the manager wants to keep me, I’d definitely stay for a long time,”

So, three back for Everton – and one Argentinian declaring his undying love for Liverpool – the derby excitement is already hotting up?