Merseyside has been placed under tier-three lockdown by the UK government ahead of the most eagerly anticipated Liverpool-Everton derby in years, but the extra measures aren’t expected to impact Saturday’s game – including the Evertonian tradition of wilting against the Reds.
Though the ban on supporters attending games continues, and the closure of pubs in the area will mean fans have little choice but to watch the game at home – if they’ve stumped up for it – the game will still go ahead as planned, according to reports.
And Paddy Power News can exclusively reveal that Liverpool’s forwards will be allowed to proceed in a similarly uninhibited fashion by the Toffees’ defence, in accordance with a long-running Merseyside Derby tradition.
“Everton might be top of the table now, but some things are more important than football,” a member of Everton’s backroom staff admitted ahead of the game. “Our style of play, our identity as a team that never, ever beats Liverpool, that means more than points in the league table or the glory of winning a trophy.”
Saturday marks ten years to the day that the Blues last beat their crosstown rivals in any competition.
“We have standards to maintain. There’s an expectation that we carry on the traditions of those who’ve gone before us. There’s nothing that says Everton more than taking a hiding against Liverpool.
“We want to provide a bit of stability for people around here in these turbulent times.”
And this time around there is an even greater responsibility on the club, he continued.
“Public safety and maintaining an appropriate social distance at all times are also much more important. We’re doing our best to drill the importance of it into the lads now.
“We’ve conducted extensive video analysis sessions over Zoom of previous derbies – 5-2 from December 2019, 3-1 from April, 2017, 4-0 from the year before.
“Ensuring our defence gives Liverpool’s players the time and space to wrack up the traditional derby spanking scoreline means everyone will be safely distanced from one another.”
Saturday's Merseyside derby will mark exactly a decade since Everton last beat Liverpool. Two cracking goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.
17 October 2010.
This weekend is arguably Everton's best chance of beating Liverpool since then… #efc #lfc pic.twitter.com/aBKMzt1BET
— Joe Short (@_jshort) October 14, 2020
“Lots of people are having to make tough decisions now. In the grander scheme of things, this is an easy one – I mean, they usually smash us anyway,” they added.
Meanwhile, for Liverpool, there are growing concerns that Adrian may have made it back to Merseyside before the lockdown measures were introduced on Tuesday evening.
The goalkeeper suffered through an error-strewn performance in the Reds’ shock 7-2 reversal against Aston Villa, their last game prior to the international break.
And while some hoped the new measures would see him caught outside the Merseyside region and unable to play due to the additional measures, it is believed he will be in the squad and the line-up for what is sure to be a hotly contested 4-1 Liverpool win as Alisson remains sidelined.
“Can we get roadblocks set-up around the ground @Merseypolice ?” @sixtimesLFC quipped, before suggesting James Milner would be a better option in goal than the former West Ham shot-stopper, “as he’s played everywhere else for us”.
While @MightyKopYNWA on twitter said the Spanish goalkeeper should be ruled out of the game on public health ground – but not because of the coronavirus. “Every time the ball is at his feet I’m having heart palpitations,” he confessed.
“Gimme Pegguy Arphexad over him any day.”
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