While it may be comforting to resort to old cliches about derby day – “the form book goes out the window”, “you’ve just got to want it more”, “literally anything can happen” – Everton fans have few reasons for optimism ahead of their trip to Anfield this afternoon.
The contrast between the Merseyside clubs this season could not be starker. While Liverpool come into this game second in the Premier League and pushing hard to overhaul Manchester City at the top of the table, Everton are destined to drop into the relegation zone if Burnley secure even a point against Wolves.
Despite getting their first league victory at Anfield in 22 years under Carlo Ancelotti last season, the Toffees have still only won one out of their last 25 matches against Liverpool in all competitions. They lost the reverse fixture 4-1 at Goodison Park in December, just six games before Rafael Benitez’s tenure came to a forlorn end.
All told, it would be an upset if Everton get a draw today let alone a win. Frank Lampard conceded earlier this week that he would happily take a point from the match which, depending on perspective, was either a needless PR blunder or a welcome dose of realism.
“It is a team that has just put four past Manchester United. You have to respect them as a team, it is an incredible team,” he added.
“I have played Liverpool, managed against Liverpool a few times, and it is always daunting in terms of you respect the level of player and manager they have.”
Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, has admitted that he and his players are relishing their ongoing chase of the fabled quadruple. “It is a situation we didn’t expect to be in and we’ve never been in this situation,” he said. “It’s incredibly tough, we play pretty much all the time.
“In these moments we all love what we do when you win a game, when you win such an important game [against Manchester United] and you win in the manner we won the game and all these kind of things.
“But it’s true, we love the situation we are in. You cannot plan it that you are still in and around everything. What we know [is] there’s nothing really achieved so far yet, or it’s not a lot. We won one competition – that’s great – but there are three others to go, and the next one is a very important Premier League game.
“Yes, the boys are in a good moment. I like to say in these moments we were in a good moment, because we have to prove it, unfortunately, again on Sunday. But so far it is good and, yes, we are looking forward to everything that is coming up.”