International break leaves Liverpool and Everton depleted

The two sides are coming into the Merseyside derby in different states of health. Both teams remained in the bottom half of the table following a tough start to the campaign.

However, the Toffees have the Premier League's form striker in the shape of Belgium global Romelu Lukaku.

Koeman will take heart from the fact that the Reds midfield will have a makeshift feel to it and if Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye can choke the home side's supply, Everton just might nick this.

"I think it is nice to play against them but it is much more about the club getting three points". Beaten only once since losing at home to Liverpool in the last seconds, they've narrowed the gap on their rivals from 16 points on 1 January to six on 1 April.

The German, however, is wary of a resurgent Everton side that have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League fixtures.

"I knew that would hurt us more than the three points would help us".

With a full midweek programme to follow, when the big games at the top are Manchester United against Everton and Chelsea against Manchester City, this is set to be a pivotal period in the battle for Europe.

'Friendly games at this stage of the season?

Everton's last victory over their local rivals was in October 2010 - Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta scoring in a 2-0 league win at Goodison Park.

"They had the most comfortable kind of trip you can have; otherwise they would land now and that would make absolutely no sense".

As expected, one of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is out of Saturday's Premier League clash with Everton. The Toffees have scored 17 goals in their last six matches and considering Liverpool haven't kept a clean sheet in their last four matches, it is hard not to see the visitors finding the back of the net this weekend.

Southampton, who may sell Virgil van Dijk at the end of the season, and Napoli are among the clubs interested in Sakho.

Lukaku is now the division's leading scorer with 21 goals.

"The job is not to win the (under-23) league, although that would be very nice, but the job is to produce Everton players".

Romelu Lukaku up against Liverpool's centre-backs will be of some concern for the Anfield faithful.

  • Julie Sanders