Everton host Liverpool at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon in the first Merseyside derby of the 22/23 season
Ian Doyle – Liverpool changes due in defence, midfield and attack
Who doesn’t love the Merseyside derby? Well, apart from anybody who has ever attended one.
It’s the 241st running of English football’s most-played local spat, with Goodison the venue as Liverpool look to overcome Everton in what’s likely to be yet another slogfest.
And after two wins in four days, it’s time for some changes for the Reds.
Alisson Becker stays in goal. But I’d be tempted to shuffle the defence a bit, with Joel Matip partnering Virgil van Dijk at centre-back and Joe Gomez shuffling across to right-back. Andy Robertson remains at left-back.
In midfield there is an enforced change with Jordan Henderson out. Fabinho anchors with Harvey Elliott on the right of the three. And I’d bring in Curtis Jones, who naturally knows how to play that left-sided role. He can do a good hour before James Milner emerges.
Up top, I’m plumping for Darwin Nunez to return and join left-winger Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah on the other flank.
And with Roberto Firmino, Fabio Carvalho, Kostas Tsimikas and possibly Diogo Jota among the substitutes, Liverpool now have
Tom Cavilla – Occasion could get the better of Darwin Nunez
As is often the case with fixtures of this nature, drama never seems to be in short supply.
Particularly in meetings between the teams at Goodison Park, temperatures on the pitch can easily boil over and strong tackles are a common theme. And it is exactly for the reason why I believe Darwin Nunez simply cannot be trusted to start from the off.
Midfield has been Jurgen Klopp’s major selection headache of recent weeks, though choosing between Roberto Firmino and Nunez will likely not be an easy decision for the Reds’ boss. By all means, the Uruguayan may be deployed late on should the team find themselves in a comfortable position but I fear the occasion could get the better of him if selected from the get-go.
The rest of the team picks itself, for the most part. Klopp is likely to continue with Joe Gomez alongside Virgil van Dijk as opposed to throwing Joel Matip back into action in a game of such high intensity. Jordan Henderson misses out in midfield due to injury, with the experienced James Milner an ideal candidate to fill the void and lead by example on the pitch.
Fabio Carvalho is unfortunate to miss out, though this is not the game to be taking any chances.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner, Elliott; Diaz, Firmino, Salah.
Mark Wakefield – Occasion calls for James Milner
There’s not much Jurgen Klopp can really do with his team, despite several players gradually making their way back from injury.
With that in mind, Alisson will keep his place in goal. After that, I’d go with Joel Matip over Joe Gomez for this one, even though the latter has been impressive since he’s returned to the team.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson make up the rest of the back four. I was tempted to go with Kostas Tsimikas over Robertson, but given it’s a derby away at Goodison I’ve gone with the first-choice option of the two.
Midfield there’s not much Klopp can do here. It’s almost certain to be Fabinho, Harvey Elliott and James Milner. There’s an argument for Curtis Jones to start, but given he’s not yet played since returning from injury, I’d have him on the bench for this one.
For the front three, I’d go with the tried and trusted trio of Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. Diaz and Salah are the obvious two, and I really did consider trying to get Fabio Carvalho in the team.
In the end, though, given it’s a derby I feel Klopp has to go with experience both with his line-up and with his formation. Both Carvalho and Darwin Nunez, fresh from his return from suspension, will be strong options from the bench, as will the returning Diogo Jota.