Soccer

Liverpool-Everton: The Worst Merseyside Derby Ever?

| by Ian Palmer

A Merseyside derby between Liverpool and cross-town rivals Everton used to be one of the most anticipated soccer games in England, but what about this weekend’s edition?

The two English Premier League teams are set to meet at Everton’s Goodison Park on Sun. Oct. 17, but right now it seems most Liverpool supporters’ attention has been diverted to off-field activities thanks to the mess the club is in. Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett tried to sell, and then block the sale of the storied franchise.

The ownership screw-up is a different story though. Let’s look more closely at the two teams involved in this weekend’s clash of the titans. Well, let’s be frank, both of them are terrible at the moment and resemble the Titanic more than titans. They’ve each sunk to some pretty low depths since the season got underway seven games ago.

Using the ownership fiasco as an excuse doesn’t cut it with most Liverpool fans -- the players on the pitch and new manager Roy Hodgson just aren’t pulling their weight. The team was left in a shambles by former manager Rafael Benitez, who seemed clueless since his second year on the job, but still has enough talent to do better than they have been.

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Any team that can boast the likes of goalkeeper Pepe Reina, midfielders Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres up front shouldn’t be losing at home to the likes of newly promoted Blackpool. They also have Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel in the squad, who doesn’t get near enough playing time, along with several other internationals. The problem with the other internationals is that Benitez put together a sad sack of them.

However, Hodgson has brought in several players since he took over, most notably Cole, but none of them are much good and the manager doesn’t really appear to be much brighter or creative than his predecessor. I think hiring him was a big mistake as he is just living on the glory of taking Fulham to the Europa Cup final last year, which they lost. So he had a good run, big deal.

When it came to the tougher Premier League where you need a consistent performance week in and week out, I believe he lead Fulham to a 12th-place finish out of 20 teams. That’s not anything to brag about or warrant a position managing Liverpool. But I suppose anybody’s an improvement over Benitez.

Liverpool should have Torres back for the game, but Kuyt’s out injured. Everton will be missing midfielder Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe, and Jack Rodwell and may also be without Phil Jagielka and Louis Saha.

While Liverpool sits in 18th place with six points, Everton isn’t much better. They’re in 17th with seven points. Everton’s been hit with some injuries lately, but the squad, like Liverpool’s, should be doing better than they are. Again, I blame poor management as David Moyes has a bad habit of leaving his best attackers on the bench until it’s too late. Both managers’ jobs could be at stake here, especially Hodgson’s, and rightly so.

But, you know what? It doesn’t matter where these two teams are in the league they usually give it a good go in the ‘Friendly Derby.’  Therefore, when the 214th edition kicks off on Sunday I’m hoping to see the same passion and intensity that has produced 19 red cards in the last 36 league games between these two sides.

I don’t care who wins as long as it’s a good game, but if I had to bet, I’d go with Liverpool 2-1.

William Hill has the odds of a Liverpool win at 2/1, an Everton win at 133/100 and a draw at 9/4.