‘At this proud club we do not cheat or dive’ – Everton & Liverpool fans preview Merseyside derby

Who will be your key player in this match?

EVERTON: Nikica Jelavic. Nikica is a top class striker who makes such a difference to this Everton side. From the moment he signed in January he has fulfilled what he said in his first press conference would happen; goals, goals and more goals. Nikica ‘one touch’ Jelavic doesn’t need a lot of space to score a goal, he hits everything so early that defenders don’t have time to react and he will be key to beating the opposition on Sunday. Give him the service and he will score.

LIVERPOOL: Offensively, the eternal question at the moment is whether Suarez can a) control his emotions, and b) be more clinical in front of goal. If/when he manages to achieve both of these he will be up there for one of the best footballers in the world. Until then it’s rather frustrating at times. We also need Gerrard to have a big performance.

Defensively, and especially if Fellaini is fit, we need to handle him. So Skrtel will need to be on his game, particularly aerially. I can’t see Joe Allen winning much in the air against Fellaini!

Is the referee included here? He will be key for whether he gives protection to Suarez, and handling of Fellaini.

Who will be your team’s most dangerous opponent?

EVERTON: Steven Gerrard, still a top quality footballer.

LIVERPOOL: As above, Fellaini is a threat. Not particularly for his actual ability as a footballer but more so for the problems he creates due to his physical presence. And of course, Baines is a threat so assuming Wisdom plays, it will be his biggest test yet.

Who will be the opposition’s weak link?

EVERTON: I could pick many, Reina has been short of form for quite a while, and has recently had an injury. Supposedly he will make his comeback at Goodison and I feel if we put him under pressure a mistake will happen.

LIVERPOOL: Hibbert or Neville, depending who starts right back. Hopefully Sterling can take advantage.

Opposition player you’d pinch for your team?

EVERTON: Steven Gerrard. Since we lost Gibson to injury in August we have lost a bit of our shape. I feel Gerrard could do a similar job for us in controlling our midfield, but also use his good range of passing to find our excellent forward players.

LIVERPOOL: Leighton Baines. After Enrique’s early season form last season he has completely gone off the boil and we’re back to needing a good left-back again. It’s been a problematic position for decades, even though Johnson is performing admirably out of position there at the moment.

If you were giving the team talk, what would you say?

I want you to go out there today and show what a very good footballing team you are! You know it, I know it, those fantastic supporters out there know it and today you need to show the opposition how good you are, and the watching millions who, when you perform, will see how far you have come and how you are a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League. You are better than Liverpool, your playing record in the Premier league shows that, only the two Manchester clubs have a higher tally of points than the 50 accumulated by all of you in 2012.
By contrast that lot next door in 2012 have lost 14 games and have got 23 less points than you in 2012, that’s the gulf you have created between us and them, you are a far better footballing team, you’re better in defence, you’re more creative in midfield and you can score goals, goals and more goals. Today each and every one of you will wear that shirt with pride, you will not cheat or dive, at this proud club we do not behave like that.

Now I want you to go out there and play the way you have been playing, be positive, be creative, keep passing and if you do that, their inexperienced side will not be able to live with you. Now go out there and get what you, the management, and those supporters deserve… an Everton victory! COYB!

LIVERPOOL: Play the game, not the occasion. Don’t get carried away with the emotion and rivalry and keep 10 men on the pitch. Ignore any decisions that don’t go your way and don’t waste energy appealing them, just get on with it. Be clever with our movement out wide and don’t take too many risks in our own half, let’s not go gifting them goals through individual mistakes.

Your favourite Merseyside derby memory?

EVERTON: I have loads, from Graham Sharp’s volley at Anfield to standing on the Kop when Lineker slotted in the second, trying to contain myself. But my favourite is Andy King’s volley on October 28, 1978. It was my first derby that I can remember and a brilliant goal capped off a brilliant day. The Andy King game was on the same day as this weekend’s clash in 1978 and we had drawn at QPR 1-1 the previous week. An omen? I think so!

LIVERPOOL: There’s many to choose. Rush’s four will always stand out. The 4-4 FA Cup classic in 91. But the 1989 FA Cup Final is and always will be the greatest Merseyside derby ever, for so many reasons.

Your predicted starting XI…

Your prediction?

EVERTON: 3-0 Jelavic (2), Osman

LIVERPOOL: 2-2 Jelavic, Baines. Gerrard, Shelvey

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