John Gibbons: I couldn’t imagine my life without Everton in it

Despite all their woes, John would miss his great rivals all the same.

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You know what they say, you wait all year for a home derby, and then two come along at once.

The build-up to this game against Everton has been sidetracked by news of another game against Everton in January in the FA Cup. We seem to have played Everton a surprising amount in the tournament.

There was of course two years ago and Virgil Van Djik announcing his arrival at Liverpool with a winning goal. Not a bad way to start your career at a new club and win the fans over.

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We also played them in 2015, when I am reliably informed Dan Gosling scored the winning goal, but ITV had cut to the adverts by mistake. We were even meant to play them a couple of years before that, but Liverpool couldn’t beat Oldham Athletic, and so they got to play them instead.

Everton have had to come to Anfield a lot recently, and if social media is anything to go by, they are taking news of another trip very badly indeed.

To be fair, their record at Anfield is absolutely dreadful. They haven’t won there this millennium, and much better teams than this one have played a series of Liverpool teams who weren’t eight points clear at the top of the Premier League and failed.

But surely a one-off cup game against what is likely to be a much-changed Liverpool side is a chance to reverse that?

Because for all Liverpool’s dominance in the fixture in the 21st century, there haven’t been many hammerings.

Yes, there was a 4-0 in 2016 where they hardly touched the ball and the only thing Everton fans had to cheer all night was Funes Mori kissing the badge after getting himself sent off. There was also a 4-0 in 2014 which should have been more, when Sturridge missed a penalty to make it 5-0 after only 55 minutes, and then everyone just decided to pack in.

But, most of the fixtures have been like last season. When there was only one goal between the sides in both league games home and away, and that was scored deep into stoppage time.

Maybe it was the manner of that goal that sums up just why Evertonians hate the fixture so much, and can think of nothing worse than the prospect of more misery in the FA Cup.

I am sure you remember Liverpool’s winning goal in the Anfield Derby last season, but if you can’t, lets all recap.

Deep into injury time in a match when Liverpool haven’t played well at all, the ball falls to Virgil Van Djik who tries what can only be described as a “speculative” effort on goal, but only manages to loop the ball high into the sky.

That’s it, everyone thinks. It’s all over. The Everton fans throw on a purple flare in celebration of a draw.

But, then the ball starts to drop from the heavens. Jordan Pickford panics. He tries to tip it over the bar, but he can’t because he’s only got little arms.

Instead, the ball bounces on the crossbar, not once but twice. Everyone is frozen just staring at the events unfolding, expect for Divock Origi, who calmly headed into the goal. Bedlam erupts across the stadium, apart from one corner of The Anfield Road stand, who just let out a collective “Oh for f**k sake”.

I assume that is why Evertonians hate this fixture so much.

Just when it looks like their team have found every possible way of losing the game, they find another one. Fair play last year’s one was very creative indeed, I don’t think even I could have written that one.

They must look at each trip to Anfield with a feeling of what on earth next?

Maybe they won’t have to worry about it for much longer. Everton are currently in 17th, and with no poor teams in the Premier League this year, they are in real danger of going down.

So how do Liverpool fans feel about that?

Personally, I can’t imagine life without them. Don’t get me wrong it would be funny when it happened, but next season there would be a definite Everton shaped hole in the fixture list.

Who could imagine a Liverpool season without a late winner against Everton at Christmas?

So many of my footballing highlights have been the increasingly ridiculous ways we have beaten Everton. They’ll beat us one day of course. Maybe even this week. But, either way, I want them to stay up. Just to see what happened next.

As a famous lunatic once said… ‘Kill you? I don’t wanna kill you. What would I do without you? You complete me, Everton’.

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