English Premier League Returns For Midweek Round
Nov 30, 2021, 10:47 AM
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY – A cold weekend in the EPL saw one fixture fall foul of the weather, heavy snow fell in Burnley and a decision was made to call off their match up with Spurs. This match will now be rearranged for a later date.
Manchester City overcame a tricky tie with West Ham to run out 2-1 winners at the Etihad. Liverpool beat Southampton 4-0 to maintain their title push, and Manchester United went to league leaders Chelsea and grabbed a point as Jadon Sancho impressed for the Red Devils. The midweek round kicks off on Tuesday and goes through Thursday.
Everton v. Liverpool
The Merseyside Derby on Wednesday is the highlight of the midweek round. A 1:15 p.m. kick on NBCSN is a fierce rivalry renewed as the Blues take on the Reds at Goodison Park. Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool manager, is under a little pressure as the Everton manager of late, as a nosedive in fortunes have coincided with key injuries.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 30, 2021
But their last win, against Norwich, came back on September 25th, a stretch of seven games that has produced just two points. And after a bright start to the season, the home fans are getting restless. Benitez is known as a defensive tactician, who gets his teams organized and well-drilled and then looking to hit opponents on the counterattack.
Adopting a 4-5-1 approach, Everton are relying on the big Venezuelan, Salomón Rondón, to hold the ball up and bring others into play, once that part of his job is done and in the attacking third, he’s the target man and will look to get into the penalty area to be an aerial threat. The runners off him will play a huge part in this match providing width and pace. Andros Townsend has been a great pick-up, as has Demarai Gray, who recently returned from injury.
They’ve added an element of danger in the wider areas, and Townsend is well known to pull the trigger from distance. The issue is Richarlison getting back to form that made him such a threat across the front line, they’re also in desperate need of long-time injured target man, Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The England international has only played 248 minutes this season, scoring 3 goals and is still the joint top scorer at the club. And that is a problem for the Toffees, who sit in 14th.
Liverpool is scoring a lot of goals this season, to put that into perspective through the first 13 matches, they sit in 3rd, behind Chelsea and Man City. They’ve scored 8 more than the leaders and 12 more than City. Of course, scoring loads of goals doesn’t mean they’ll win the title, but the reason I bring it up is the Reds have scored at least twice in each of the last 16 matches in all games, the first English team to achieve that feat since Wolves in 1939 and if they do it again in this game, they would become the first top-flight team to reach the landmark of 17 in a row since Sunderland in 1927.
However the Derby is not a forgone conclusion, it’s a grind and a battle. And emotions run high and especially in this game you have to expect the unexpected. What will give Liverpool hope is the knowledge that the front three in Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Mo Salah are in a fantastic moment, with 10 assists and 25 goals between the trio. And I expect Liverpool to travel across Stanley Park and dominate possession, it’s just whether Rafa Benitez can organize his troops and frustrate their bitter city rivals.
Prediction: Everton is looking for a jolt in the arm, and the derby could provide that. Anything but a loss could catapult their confidence up and allow them to re-kick start their season after a somewhat promising start. But how do you stop Liverpool? It won’t be easy, and I do think the Reds will have bragging rights in the city come the end of 90 minutes.
That’ll do it for the midweek round, and we’ll be back before the weekend to preview those sets of fixtures.