Red Bull win gives Liverpool wings over Everton
Saturday's Merseyside derby sees Liverpool and Everton go head-to-head in sixth and seventh respectively at the time of writing, but in contrasting moods thanks to their midweek results. The Reds hold a 2-0 advantage over RB Leipzig going into their second leg in March, whilst the Toffees succumbed to the all-conquering Manchester City juggernaut in the Premier League at Goodison Park. Despite that defeat, a win for the visitors at Anfield at the weekend would draw them level on points with their fierce rivals whilst still having a game in hand, That could mean a springboard back into top four contention for them, but they'll have to overcome an erratic Jürgen Klopp side that seem to turn up when it really matters, and less so when it doesn't. Read our preview here:
Cut Kabak some slack
Pool made the most of some uncharacteristically sloppy passing by Die Roten Bullen to press home their win, and it was topped off by a timely return to the scoresheet for Sadio Mané. Klopp would also have been doubly pleased by the increasingly rare clean sheet in 2020/2021, which was secured in no small part by the display of Schalke 04 loanee Ozan Kabak. It's fair to say the young Turkish centre back endured a nightmare debut for his temporary side, being at fault for at least one of Leicester City's goals last weekend. However, he put in a much more assured performance against a similar level of opposition on Tuesday, and is certain to retain the confidence of his head coach as a result. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are unlikely to give him time to settle or dwell on the ball, and the relentless nature of the fixture list makes certain that the thorough examination of his credentials will continue at a very quick pace. Like any other player, he does need the breathing space to adjust to a new environment, but because of Liverpool's current position in the table, individual mistakes by him or any other defender are likely to be magnified.
Strike it, Richarlison!
The natural tendencies of the wider members of Carlo Ancelotti's attacking midfield trio in the 4-2-3-1 to come inside will put immense pressure on the three in red holding fort in the middle of the park. Curtis Jones is not renowned for his tackling, but he cannot allow that particular weakness to let James Rodríguez skip by unchallenged, especially if Jordan Henderson is still in the centre of defence. The captain doesn't have the speed to deal with that sort of onslaught, so the balance in midfield must be finely attuned to the threats in blue. Richarlison showed with his positioning against City in midweek that he will find any smidgen of space behind the backline, and whilst he could with improving his goal tally in the league to ease the burden on teammate Calvert-Lewin, they are far from a one-man show in attack. There is a swagger to the Brazilian's play when at his best, and some of that cuteness and arrogance will be required to create gaps to exploit.
Keane to not peter out
There is now an argument to be made that for Liverpool, their best chance of being in next season's Champions League on current form is to win this season's trophy. They have proven to be too inconsistent to really trouble the league leaders, and any team as far down as a similarly erratic Tottenham Hotspur in ninth could probably mount a charge into the top four. The multitude of competitors is great for the competition itself, containing teams who don't ordinarily have pretensions of qualifying for the elite continental cup. Everton are amongst that group, and have the tools to battle their rivals with no shortage of skill to add to their graft for the entire 90 minutes. Neither side are in good form, and both have found shutting out the opposition a rarity. 888sport are offering odds of 2.88 for the hosts to win with both teams scoring.