This is one of the biggest Merseyside derbies in a long time. That’s because when you go back the last five, 10 years, how often was it coming towards the end of the season that both Liverpool and Everton had something to play for?
Everton haven’t finished above Liverpool an awful lot in the last 20 years – just three times in the Premier League’s history. They’ve got a serious chance to do it this year and if they reduce the gap this weekend it’s all to play for.
The reason Jurgen Klopp come in was to win trophies and get back in the Champions League. I know people say ‘there’s a lot at stake’ and ‘it’s a derby game’, but it’s really a crunch match this time around.
I’ve got to say I like both managers, but you probably couldn’t have two more different characters than them two. Klopp is very outgoing, very enthusiastic and very passionate about things, while Ronald Koeman is Mr Cool.
My personality is probably more in sync with the Everton manager’s than Jurgen’s. I never really liked managers who shouted a lot or who were on the go all the time on the touch line.
Without knowing how they work with the team and how they address players in the dressing room – purely from a personality point of view – I’d probably sway towards Koeman as the manager I would have preferred to play for.
Koeman’s a top guy, he’s well respected and speaks well. He had a bit of a rough time when he first came here as things weren’t going too well, but the Everton boss kept his calm.
A Ronald return to the Nou Camp
If you’d have told Everton fans at the start of the season that they could finish ahead of Liverpool, they’d have jumped at that. It’s a real possibility now.
What Koeman’s done with The Toffees this season is simply outstanding. No wonder he’s been linked with the Barcelona job recently, he’d be tailor made for it. He was a massive player there, he’s well respected all around Europe and probably even more so in Barca. He’s also won the European Cup with them, need I say more?
Whether he’d want to leave Everton is another thing. He’s got a very good job at Goodison Park, with a club who want to build a new stadium.
Everton are keen to move forward, so it’s probably a good time for him to be there. They’ve got a new owner – so if he does spend the money and builds a new ground – they could be serious players again for trophies again.
It would be great for Premier League and brilliant for the city of Liverpool. Does Koeman want to leave that after one season?
Joel’s started the fire for Everton’s defence
The Everton keeper, Joel, is the major difference between the two defences for me. He’s had some outstanding games and your back-four are only as good as their keeper.
You can have the best defence in the world, but it only takes two or three shots on goal and with one sneaking in to have people saying, ‘oh, the defence is struggling’.
I’ll lean towards Everton’s defence over Liverpool’s because their fullbacks (even without the injured Coleman) are better – the centre-back competition is pretty even, but Joel swings it. Mignolet is doing okay, but okay is obviously not good enough at this level.
The Reds had a rotten January and February, and that the only reason Klopp didn’t get more stick was that he’s still got the punters and some of the press onside. If they lose to Everton, then things change. It’s a huge match for the Liverpool manager, not only for this season, but also in the long term.
If he wants Liverpool to be successful, he’s got to keep the fans behind him. There’s no better way of doing that than beating their city rivals.