Liverpool v Everton, 13:30
– A fabulous display of attacking football saw Liverpool rout Newcastle 0-6 at St James’ Park last weekend, with Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge both grabbing braces.
– As always this derby will be full to the brim of emotion as the two sides of the Mersey battle for supremacy in a fixture with genuine European implications. Count on Steven Gerrard being as determined as any to leave his mark on this game. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Gerrard has all the tools for the job, having joined the select group of players to have completed more than 1,000 passes in the opponent’s half this season (1,032). He’s also been one of Liverpool’s top tacklers with a success rate of 62.7% from 83 attempted challenges.
– Many Liverpool fans may have wondered exactly were their goals were going to come from following Luis Suarez’s lengthy ban but Daniel Sturridge showcased his value to the Reds’ attacking line last weekend. Sturridge is in fact almost Suarez’s equal in his ability to create chances for himself this season, having average a shot on target on average once every 34.1 minutes this season.
– Phillippe Coutinho was Newcastle’s tormenter in chief last weekend, the diminutive midfielder using his slick passing to carve the Magpies open. Coutinho is thriving in the Premier League despite concerns over his size and has on average completed a pass in the opponent’s half once every 4.9 minutes following his arrival on Merseyside.
– A Steven Pienaar goal kept Everton in the hunt for a European spot next season as they beat Fulham 1-0 at Goodison Park.
– Utilising the strengths of Marouane Fellaini will be crucial to Everton’s chances of success against a buoyant Liverpool side, but the Belgian must be careful not to let his tendency for ill-discipline catch up with him. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, Fellaini has only been successful in 36.3% of his 135 attempted tackles this season.
– Look for Kevin Mirallas to test out the Liverpool defence this weekend as he has been doing to back fours all season. The elusive Belgian has established an excellent shot accuracy rate of 74.6% from 59 attempts this season so there is a strong likelihood of him being amongst the goals on Sunday.
– At the other end of the park, Phil Jagielka will be crucial in helping to keep out a Liverpool attack full of confidence after their dismantling of Newcastle. The England centre-half has one of the best defensive records in the league this season, making a defensive contribution on average once every 9.7 minutes he’s been on the pitch this season.