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Venue: Goodison Park
Premier League
Sunday 21 June 2020; 7:00pm
0 0
Half Time: 0 - 0 
Attendance: 0
Fixture 26
Referee: Mike Dean

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Match Report
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  Keane booked
  Digne booked
  Iwobi (Bernard 88')
  Gordon (Sigurdsson 60')
  Calvert-Lewin (Kean 90'+3)
  Subs not used
* 5 substitutions and expanded squad permitted
  Delph (injured)
  Gbamin (injured)
  Mina (injured)
  Schneiderlin (injured)
  Sidibe (injured)
  Tosun (injured)
  Walcott (injured)
  Bolasie (loan)
  Besic (loan)
  Dowell (loan)
  Garbutt (loan)
  Hornby (loan)
  Kenny (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  Ramirez (loan)

  Matip (Lovren 73')
  Van Dijk
  Milner booked (Gomez 43')
  Keita (Wijnaldum 65')
  Minamino (Oxlade-Chamberlain 46')
  Firmino (Origi 65' booked)
  Subs not used

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Norwich 0-3 Southampton
Tottenham 1-1 Man United
Bournemouth 0-2 C Palace
Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Watford 1-1 Leicester
West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Newcastle 3-0 Sheff United
Man City 5-0 Burnley

1 Liverpool 83
2 Manchester City 60
3 Leicester City 54
4 Chelsea 51
5 Manchester United 46
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 46
7 Sheffield United 44
8 Tottenham Hotspur 42
9 Crystal Palace 42
10 Arsenal 40
11 Burnley 39
12 Everton 38
13 Newcastle United 38
14 Southampton 37
15 Brighton & Hove Albion 32
16 Watford 28
17 West Ham United 27
18 Bournemouth 27
19 Aston Villa 26
20 Norwich City 21

Match Report

If you’ve been less than enthused about the prospect of the Premier League returning to empty stadiums, perhaps the only thing capable of stirring your Blue blood for Everton’s first match in more than three months was that it was a derby. And if the Toffees’ record in this fixture has long since beaten the optimism out of you, there is always that flicker of hope in your heart (based on the law of averages, if nothing else) that Everton could finally beat Liverpool for the first time in a decade.

For a heart-stopping moment in the 80th-minute of an often tedious match, it looked as though the Blues might have done it, too. A driving run from Richarlison, a cheeky heel-flick goal-wards from Dominic Calvert-Lewin pushed into the path of Tom Davies and, with the far corner of the goal beckoning, the young midfielder tucks a shot past Alisson Becker.

Ordinarily, a packed Goodison Park would have held its collective breath, ready to erupt in jubilation. As it was, Evertonians up and down the country and across the globe froze on their sofas as Joe Gomez got a crucial deflection on the shot, diverting it onto the post. Just when Everton needed a touch of luck to end a sorry Merseyside derby record, it didn’t arrive and the wait for bragging rights has been extended for another few months.

As the cliché goes, you make your own luck and in football, that means creating enough chances to increase the odds of fortune falling in your favour and Everton didn’t really do that, even though they came out of the game having carved out the better opportunities to win the contest.

Under normal circumstances, it would have been more frustrating but emerging from a three-month suspension of the season with no competitive action since that harrowing defeat at Chelsea in March, the performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men should be viewed in context. This goalless Goodison derby, the third in a row now, was played out between two rusty-looking teams, often with the feel of a pre-season friendly or exhibition game.

Yet, despite the general lack of attacking fluidity, there were elements of this display to admire from Everton, not least in defence where Mason Holgate was outstanding, Michael Keane pleasingly dependable and Seamus Coleman rolled back the years with a tenacious performance worthy of his status as club captain.

It was clear that Ancelotti had drilled into his charges a game plan based on containment for the first hour at least, one that succeeded in making the media darling, champions-elect look decidedly ordinary. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the Blues’ wide players, with Alex Iwobi tucked into a wing-back style role providing plenty of protection for Coleman but without much license or ability to get forward into attacking positions. The Nigerian is a much better player operating centrally behind the striker but in a 4-4-2 system (even one that was supposed to pivot to 4-3-3 when Everton had the ball), he looks a few levels short of what the team needs.

On the other flank, young debutant Anthony Gordon was game and showed flashes of what he is capable of but he, too, was somewhat stymied by Everton’s disjointed and ineffective possession of the ball. Often, the most productive route was a high ball searching out Calvert-Lewin or one down the channel for either he or Richarlison to chase, leaving Gordon and Iwobi largely peripheral. In central midfield, Davies and André Gomes sat in, charged with choking Jürgen Klopp’s much-vaunted attack and rarely ventured forward, robbing the home side of a link man between midfield and attack.

It made for a very tepid first half, one that started well enough with Richarlison prompting Alisson to push his shot behind as early as the fourth minute before lapsing into something a lot less attractive on the eye. Takumi Minamino hammered one wide from distance after Gordon had been dispossessed in midfield, Joel Matip headed wide when he might have hit the target following a free-kick and Roberto Firmino also shot wide after referee Mike Dean somehow elected not to award a foul on Gomes.

Everton briefly roused themselves with a decent move 10 minutes before half-time when Gordon back-heeled Calvert-Lewin’s pass into Richarlison’s path but the Brazilian’s effort was blocked. The half finished, however, with Holgate making an excellent lunge to charge down a Minamino chance.

With no changes from Ancelotti at the half-time interval, the pattern continued into the second half, with Everton seemingly waiting for Liverpool to score in order to find the impetus they needed to make a breakthrough of their own. Naiby Kaita half-volleyed past Jordan Pickford’s post and Virgil van Dijk headed tamely at the England ‘keeper before the hosts gave the visitors a warning sign of how they might end up unlocking their back line and nicking the points.

Calvert-Lewin sent Richarlison into space down the channel with a beautiful ball over the top but the Brazilian’s shot from the angle was wild and well off target. A minute later, Dean unfathomably gave a free-kick and showed a yellow card to Lucas Digne for a perfectly-executed tackle just outside Everton’s penalty box but, thankfully, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s direct effort caught the wall and flew over.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had replaced Gordon by this point and the much-maligned Icelander’s introduction had the effect of making the Blues stronger on the ball and more assured in midfield where they had hitherto been overrun at times. And for the last half hour, apart from another Alexander-Arnold free-kick in injury time, it was Everton who looked the more likely to win it.

Davies agonisingly hitting the woodwork was as close as they would come but Calvert-Lewin went close by throwing himself at a cross from the ensuing corner and a minute later, Richarlison popped up on the left side of the reds’ box again but having delayed to allow reinforcements to arrive, he ignored Iwobi in a better position and went for goal from a tight angle, only for Alisson to beat his shot away.

Bernard came on for the last six minutes or so and Moise Kean got literally a run onto the field before Dean called time and both sides had to be content with a point.

With Europe already slipping away prior to the lockdown, this last quarter of the season was always bound to be one of further discovery for Ancelotti and, by blooding Gordon and deploying Iwobi in a different role, he is learning more about the capabilities of his squad.

The boss will take heart from an impressive defensive display, even allowing for some early sloppiness in distribution, but the team remains uncomfortably short of quality in attacking midfield, something that will hopefully be addressed in the summer.

For now, attentions turn to relegation-threatened Norwich who were soundly beaten at home by Southampton on Friday. Three points there and Ancelotti’s men might be able to gather some momentum in what will effectively be pre-season for 2020-21 given the way the schedule is likely to go.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Carlo Ancelotti gave Anthony Gordon a start but Everton fail yet again to beat Liverpool at Goodison Park.

Scousser Tom Davies is also selected to alongside André Gomes in central midfield, with the perennially disappointing Gylfi Sigurdsson on the socially distant bench, where he has eight other teammates, including Branthwaite and Beningime from the Under-23s.

The most bizarre derby ever, with Goodison Park basically empty, Liverpool players entering the stadium from the corner between the Park End and Bullens Road, while the Everton players come out of the tunnel, the siren squeals and Z-Cars booms out of an echoy Tannoy system, with a combination of rain and sunshine bathing the pristine emerald turf.

30 seconds of silence in memory of the many who have died of the coronavirus as a plane buzzed noisily overhead before Liverpool kicked off behind closed doors.

Liverpool did most of the early pressing down the Everton right before Everton got a bit more possession. Richarlison got forward but lashed his shot across the face of goal after dribbling past Virgil van Dijk, and really Everton should have done a lot better with that early chance.

Fabinho committed a really dirty challenge on Calvert-Lewin, but it went unpunished by Kopite referee, Michael Dean. Gordon lost the ball to Fabinio and Minamino lashed a shot high and wide of Pickford's goal.< Richarlison was fouled by Fabiinio but Dean gave it the other way, it thankfully was put harmlessly behind.

The game developed into a depressing pattern of Everton playing on the back foot, unable to retain possession long enough to get beyond the half-way line. Really poor quality from the Blues. A better piece of play saw Everton attack through Richarlison but Digne launched an awful cross behind Alisson's goal.

Iwobi, gaining rare possession for Everton, lashed a ridiculous ball to nobody down the right wing. Milner took out Richarlison and was rightly given the yellow card. The pace and intensity of the game was starting to look a little more like a real derby, on the field at least, as the first drinks break was called.

Davies was caught, earning a free-kick that went all the way through, wasted. Digne did the usual Everton trow-in routine, no-one to throw to... Holgate this time lashed an awful ball that would have been good for gaining ground were they playing Rugby Union. Gordon broke up a Liverpool attack but gave it straight back trying to pass to Calvert-Lewin.

A Liverpool free-kick for a handball was headed well wide by Matip. Everton won a free-kick that came a lot closer, Richarlison getting a little too much on it from Gordon's excellent delivery, but Richarlison had broken too early and was called offside.

Liverpool finally looked to breakthrough at pace after Gomes was dispossessed, Frmino dragging his shot wide of Pickford's goal. Some neat play among Iwobi, a great flick from Gordon was too clever for Richarlison, who should have done better.

Gordon tried a good ball forward but Calvert-Lewin went obe way and Richarlison was beaten to the ball by Van Dijk. Keane had to floor Mane and take the yellow card. Pickford had the measure of Arnold's set-piece.

Milner went down and was replaced by Gomez. Liverpool tried to walk the ball into the Everton net with some slick passing and some blue shirts finally blocked the threatening move. The added time was played out with Everton again on the back foot but repelling all Liverpool's patient probing through until half-time.

The game resumed, with Calvert-Lewin doing some impressive keepy-uppy on his head, running the ball into touch... brilliant! Coleman had to be sharp in on Gomez, giving away the first corner of the game, batted away by Pickford. Keita tried a tricky volley on the run that went well wide.

Everton were surrendering the ball, only ever comfortable playing a deep defensive line, and totally bereft of ideas when the had possession, Pickford wellying it aimlessly upfield. Coleman did well to contain Mane again and win a goal-kick that was yet again wasted, with Liverpool pressing the Blue shirts back again, ever threatening the breakthrough. Everton were living very dangerously.

With the hour approaching, Gylfi Sigurdsson was readied to come on, but not before a Liverpool corner was headed down to Pickford. Digne tried a heavily ballooned cross that was meat and drink for Alisson. Kene had to give away a corner on a strong cross as Gordon trotted off.

Calvert-Lewin did well to release Richarlison down the right but he could not command the bouncing ball at pace and launched it moonward. Dean booked Digne for a good tackle that got the ball, Everton protestations to nought and no VAR interference. Arnold clipped the set-piece off the top of the Everton wall, the Blues unable to repel the corner, Digne floored by Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Everton's game plan, if there was one, was to survive the increasing onslaught without conceding. Such limited ambition.

On the rare occasion that they could break out through Digne and Calvert-Lewin, they stalled and went backwards. Calvert-Lewin got behind the Liverpool back line a fraction too early, his lively run flagged offside.

A great ball ou to Richarlsom Calvert-Lewin tries to be too clever with a flick that did not beat Alisson but Davies following up would surely score.... but no, off the post. Such criminally poor finishing. From the corner, Calvert-Lewin could not head in at the far post.

Richarlison then did really well, beating everyone down the left again and cutting inside along the byeline, and having time to pick his spot or play a ball across, but shooting straight at Alisson. How Everton contrived not to score in this spell will defy all football analysis.

The earlier pattern resumed, Liverpool pressing high, winning a corner, scrambled clear by the Blue shirts. Iwobi made way for Bernard. Moise Keane was then given all of 10 seconds at the end in place of Calvert-Lewin after Richarlison fouled Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabinho fired in an excellent free-kick that Pickford did very well to flick over the bar.

The game ended, and a hollow feeling as empty as the stadium after yet another squandered opportunity, with Everton failing yet again to beat their deadly rivals.

Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Holgate, Keane [Y:40'], Digne [Y:62']; Gordon (60' Sigurdsson), Gomes, Davies, Iwobi (88' Bernard); Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (90+3' Kean).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Virginia, Baines, Martina, Branthwaite, Baningime.

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip (73' Lovren), Van Dijk, Milner [Y:20'] (42' Gomez); Henderson, Fabinho, Keita (65' Wijnaldum); Minamino (46' Oxlade-Chamberlain), Firmino (65' Origi [Y:85']), Mane.
Subs not Used: Adrian, Williams, Elliott, Salah.

Referee: Mike Dean
VAR: Chris Kavanagh

Michael Kenrick

Merseyside derby musings

Those who regularly read my match reports would know that, as much as getting across (or trying to) what I feel about the team and how we are playing, I try to paint a picture of the general matchday experience. With that currently unavailable to us, I had no plans to write a report but, having watched the Merseyside derby on TV, there were a few things I wanted to get off my chest.

My pre-Merseyside derby build-up couldn’t have been further away from anything I’ve previously experienced. On Saturday evening, against my better judgement, I ate some bacon which looked off and smelt off and didn’t taste of anything. The next day, I awoke feeling very poorly with a high temperature and, remembering my tasteless bacon experience the night previous, I wondered if I had maybe somehow contracted Covid-19. And so I booked a test and travelled to Deeside in the morning.

Come the evening, I felt a lot better and even stretched to a couple of beers while watching the game at home. The test result arrived this morning and it's negative, but better to be safe... Not my typical pre-Merseyside derby build-up!

Come kick-off and, though I was undeniably very interested, the pre-derby nerves were nowhere near their usual levels. Having the game at the end of the day on a Sunday would usually have me fretting all day long, but it really didn’t occupy a lot of my thoughts. It felt odd hearing the Z-Cars theme tune and then seeing Liverpool players enter from a Portacabin, and then on kick-off, bar the loud shouting from the supporting casts in the dugouts, Goodison Park felt eerily quiet.

With Theo Waltcott unavailable and Carlo sticking to 4-4-2, I felt it was the most disciplined team we could have begun with. It was great to see Anthony Gordon make his first Premier League start and Alex Iwobi filled the other wing, with Tom Davies and André Gomes in midfield. There was no room for Gylfi Sigurdsson in the starting XI.

If the opportunity permits over the coming weeks, I would like to see how we get on in a 4-3-3. I think André, Tom and Gylfi would be quite well suited to it and Dominic, Richarlison and Theo (for now at least) could be handy in a three also. I’d be interested to see us give it a go anyway.

As for Liverpool, it really feels that Jurgen Klopp is trolling Everton with his team selections, with a few of their first-team regulars not participating. Given what such a fit team Liverpool seem to be and how well prepared they always are, I’m a bit surprised they haven’t got everyone firing fit. Despite Andy Robinson, Georgino Wijnaldum and Mo Salah not involved, Liverpool still had a lot of quality to bring in.

Let's not forget, we are talking about a £264M wage bill compared to £89.5M and we had plenty of injuries ourselves. Aside from Manchester United, Liverpool have the highest wage bill in the Premier League. I’ve never understood this “plucky Liverpool” notion. (Source:

I was a bit dismayed with our first-half performance, particularly that of Alex Iwobi who offered nothing sensible in attack. Liverpool were well on top and Firmino should have done better with his first-half opportunity after he was nicely set up by Takumi Minamino. It felt like it was only a matter of time before Liverpool scored but we held out to the break, and perhaps came closest to scoring ourselves when Richarlison’s effort fizzed just away from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

I have to say I was much more impressed with our second-half showing and really enjoyed our disciplined approach to the game. Carlo looked calm and composed on the sideline whenever the camera showed him. I have to admit to being dumbfounded by some of his tactical decisions in his short time at Everton so far, but our second-half display showed me what a wise and astute manager he is. We’re in safe hands with him.

I saw a different side to Alex Iwobi, who actually did a very good job of following team instructions and filling a lot of holes. André Gomes slowly had an influence on the game. Liverpool had some free kicks in dangerous positions (one from a shocking Mike Dean decision) but thankfully failed to seriously trouble the impressive Jordan Pickford. They looked threatening from corners though nothing came of them. I thought in the second half, we were comfortable.

Whether it was the initial game plan or not, or Everton scenting blood with the introduction of Dejan Lovren, I don’t know, but Everton went for the kill in the last 10 minutes and so nearly came away with the win. Joe Gomez, as he did at Anfield last season, saved the day for Liverpool with an outstanding block tackle from Tom Davies which deflected the ball onto the post. We twice came close after that also with a Richarlison drive and a Dominic Calvert-Lewin header. On another day, it could have been a rare Merseyside derby win.

And alas I turned off the TV reflecting on what might have been; it felt a bit like Groundhog Day. A lot was made of our terrible derby record over the years (17 October 2010 when we last won a Merseyside derby) but we can add this one to the list of Merseyside derbies that could have broken that hoodoo…

Sunday 16 January 2011 | Anfield | 2-2

Everton lead 2-1 when Maxi Rodriguez wins a very fortunate penalty to level the scores for the hosts.

Saturday 14 April 2012 | Wembley | 1-2

Everton take the lead but an uncharacteristic Sylvain Distin error gifts Liverpool an equaliser and swings the momentum in their favour. We lose the game very late on as extra time beckons.

Sunday 5 May 2013 | Anfield | 0-0

Sylvain Distin has the ball in the net with a good headed goal from a corner kick but Michael Oliver inexplicably disallows it and books Victor Anichebe for asking him why. Oliver later on apologises to Stephen Gerrard after Stephen calls him a “shithouse”. True story.

Saturday 23 November 2013 | Goodison Park | 3-3

Roberto Martinez’s first Merseyside derby is the most open one for years and, with 8 minutes remaining, Romalu Lukaku puts Everton 3-2 ahead. Liverpool win a pretty fortunate free-kick in the last minute which Stephen Gerrard displaces 10 yards, and at a much more acute angle, from where the foul was committed but Phil Dowd ignores Ross Barkley’s protests. Daniel Sturridge equalises from the resulting free-kick. Even after that, James McCarthy very nearly won it for Everton at the death.

Saturday 7 February 2015 | Goodison Park | 0-0

Liverpool edge a tight encounter with performance but, in the 89th minute, Seamus Coleman thrashes at goal and Simon Mignolet saves brilliantly.

Saturday 7 April 2018 | Goodison Park | 0-0

This one was probably the most like last night’s encounter. Sam Allardyce’s Everton are solid and compact against an under-strength Liverpool, with James Milner the closest to scoring for Liverpool early on, thwarted by a fine Jordan Pickford save. Late in the game, Everton make a bit of a play, and surely one of Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Cenk Tosun should score their golden chances.

Sunday 2 December 2018 | Anfield | 0-1

André Gomes misses a sitter with a free header from 6 yards out but the rebound is goalbound until Joe Gomez makes an incredible goal-line clearance. Still we should get a point until… well, you know what happened next.

Sunday 3 March 2019 | Goodison Park | 0-0

Everton battle hard and Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane both memorably deny Liverpool with their best openings. Everton make a late play in the game, bringing on André Gomes, and his influence nearly makes all the difference with Everton pushing hard in the closing stages but unable to get the goal.

Sunday 5 January 2020 | Anfield | 0-1

Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Theo Walcott all miss gilt-edged first-half opportunities which would have set Everton up nicely against a very weakened Liverpool team. In the second half, Everton don’t continue to press home their superiority and allow Liverpool in. Still, the hosts are creating nothing until Curtis Jones dips in with a hit-and-hope effort that curls into the top corner. I want to see how many more of them he scores in his Premier League career. Everton don’t respond and lose.

Now I’m not suggesting we’ve been brilliant in Merseyside derbies over the last decade, far from it in fact, but – two abysmal Anfield showings under Roberto Martinez aside – we have always been competitive. There have also been a couple of other very narrow defeats in this time when draws have been snatched away from us due to bad fortune or soft player mistakes. But, in my opinion, in 10 of these 21 fixtures we have had real opportunities to win.

Why haven’t we done so? Bad luck? Not having the bottle? Poor refereeing? A mixture of all three? The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t believe the record over the last decade reasonably reflects how each of the games have gone in that period, and it’s inconceivable that not one of these aforementioned games have resulted in an Everton victory.

There’s always next season.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: Was very comfortable with everything he did. Certainly one of them players who will perform better with no crowd, I imagine. 7

Lucas Digne: Very solid. Incredible that he got booked for that clean tackle. A big relief that didn’t result in a goal. 7

Michael Keane: Solid and dependable. Also had the good sense to bring down Sadio Mane when he was running at us dangerously. 7

Mason Holgate: Very good. I like his no-nonsense defending combined with his ability to pick a pass. Glad he seems to have carried on where he left off. 8

Seamus Coleman: I had a good feeling he would come good as he has been working very hard on his fitness, according to reports. He snuffed out all danger on his side and was feisty and competitive throughout. A great captain’s performance. My Man of the Match. 8

Tom Davies: Unlucky not to have won the game and I thought he was very good throughout. A few dicey moments when he lost possession towards the end but thankfully it didn’t cost us. Another one who should perform better in front of no crowd. A good effort. 7

André Gomes: Looked incredibly rusty and likely not fit, but his influence on the game grew late on. Expect more from him in the coming weeks. 6

Anthony Gordon: Showed glimpses of promise but a quiet if disciplined full debut. 5

Alex Iwobi: From an attacking sense, he was terrible, but he dug in very well in the second half and contributed towards us staying in the game as much as anyone. 6

Richarlison: Starved of service but was effective when in possession. 6

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: Worked hard and almost scored the winner. 7

Gylfi Sigurdsson (for Anthony Gordon): Got involved quickly and mostly used the ball well. 6

Bernard (for Alex Iwobi): Didn’t get going in the short time he had. 5

Moise Kean (for Dominic Calvert-Lewin): Not on long, can’t judge.

Paul Traill

Match Preview

Everton will return to action this Sunday in the Merseyside derby, 15 weeks after the Premier League season was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With “Project Restart” having successfully completed its first two matches as Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Manchester City and Arsenal played their games in hand from League Cup Final weekend, the first full programme of fixtures is scheduled for this weekend.

Spared the ignominy of their local rivals clinching what has been, from their perspective, a long-awaited Premier League title at Goodison Park following City's win over the Gunners on Wednesday, the Toffees can focus their minds on what has become a crippling psychological hurdle over the past decade.

No senior Everton side has beaten Liverpool since 2010. In the seasons that have followed, there have been nine draws and eight wins for the Reds in the League. The longer time has dragged on since Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta secured a 2-0 derby victory in October 2010, the more harrowing the all-Mersey clashes seem to have become for the Blue side of the City.

This weekend's derby will, of course, chart new territory; played behind closed doors without the raucous atmosphere that makes these games so special. Instead, the Grand Old Lady's seats are expected to be draped in banners and, while television viewers might have the option of hearing recreated crowd noise to enhance the viewing experience, the stadium itself will echo to the shouts of players, coaches and not much more.

There's a wry argument to be made that, perhaps, without playing in front of those demanding home supporters, Carlo Ancelotti's men might be relieved of a major source of pressure when they take on Jürgen Klopp's champions-elect. It's been argued before that some of that collective Blue anxiety can ooze out of the stands, like it did at Wembley in 2012 following Sylvain Distin's ill-fated back-pass, and affect the players.

On the other hand, though, it's been the baying crowd responding to a crunching tackle, a piece of skill, or a vital goal that perhaps enabled the Blues to eke out as many draws as they have over the years rather than allow Liverpool to ram home the gulf in resources and financial might that has existed between the two clubs since the 1980s.

Against as formidable a Reds team as there has been in the Premier League era, Everton, arguably go into this derby stripped of arguably their biggest asset — the “12th man” of Goodison Park but, with nothing to be done about the situation, they will simply have to adapt.

As Dominic Calvert-Lewin said this week, “You can't really anticipate how it's going to feel. Our fans are fantastic and they play a big part in giving us that energy to run the extra mile with the atmosphere they create. That's got to come from within now.”

The Blues' form prior to the suspension of the Premier League in March in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic left a lot to be desired. The sequence of four games against so-called “big six” teams that was interrupted by the coronavirus offered Everton a chance to press their claims for Europe just weeks after Ancelotti's arrival as the club's new manager but a return of just one point from a possible nine from the games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea has left them languishing in the wrong half of the table.

If there is one straw to clutch at, it's that both teams will be rusty coming out a three-month hiatus. Klopp's men were actually betraying a measure of fallibility just before the shutdown; while that was weeks ago now, just as early-season matches often throw up unexpected results, there's a chance that Everton could catch Liverpool off-guard.

"I know how the Everton supporters look for this game, what they want to see from my team. We know really well what we have to do," Ancelotti said in his first pre-match press conference in over three months via video conference today. "We have to play a perfect game, showing character, sacrifice and personality.

"For sure to beat Liverpool you have to do more than play at 100 per cent. We have to consider this game as a great opportunity. It will be difficult of course because Liverpool are one of the best teams in the world, but we have to try."

It's conceivable that Ancelotti will name something close to the same XI that started the game at Stamford Bridge over 100 days ago as more or less the same group of players is at his disposal in terms of fitness. Jean-Philippe Gbamin remains a long-term absentee, albeit for a different reason this time following his unfortunate Achilles tendon rupture, while Morgan Schneiderlin won't be ready following knee surgery and Fabian Delph is ruled out again with another soft-tissue complaint.

Seamus Coleman missed the defeat at Chelsea but is fit to play now and could be preferred to Djibril Sidibé whose future at Goodison is uncertain after Everton allowed the purchase option on his loan from AC Monaco to lapse.

Yerry Mina is ruled out with a quad strain and that will see Michael Keane partner Mason Holgate, with young defender Jarrad Branthwaite expected to be named in what will be an expanded squad to accommodate the temporary rule change allowing for up to five substitutes.

With Theo Walcott sidelined, there is an opening for Bernard or Alex Iwobi on the right flank playing off the anticipated strike duo of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin.

It wasn't a given that this game would be played at Goodison Park; for a while, there were very real discussions about holding the match at a neutral venue to discourage crowds from flocking to the stadium amid fears that the inevitable lack of social distancing would risk further transmission of the coronavirus.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed. One would hope it involved some faith in supporters being able to adhere to the directives while also taking into account that Liverpool are among the most widely-supported teams in the country and there isn't a city in England where they don't have thousands of Kopite cultists.

Naturally, it goes without saying that Evertonians should support the Blues from home where the game will be screened live on Sky Sports Pick / Main Event / Premier League) and not visit Goodison at any time close to the match. By the same token, the club are urging Blues fans not to congregate in groups to watch the game together out of an abundance of caution not to further spread the virus. The sooner it dies down, the sooner proper football with fans in the grounds can return.

This article has been amended after the TV broadcast details for Wednesday's game against Norwich were specified instead of this game which will be carried by Sky.

Kick-off: 7pm, Sunday 21 June, 2020
Referee: Mike Dean
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Last Time: Everton 0 - 0 Liverpool

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Digne, Davies, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

Match played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 pandemic

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