The Merseyside derby is always full of blood and thunder, no matter which ground it’s played at. History favours the Reds, but Everton go into this game in good form and won their last match in a thrilling comeback. Liverpool won against Villa, but didn’t look convincing—and they’ll be playing just three days after a Europa League fixture on Thursday night. Daniel Sturridge’s return couldn’t have come at a better time though—Benteke and Firmino are both out, possibly for a while. If Rodgers wants to get the Kop back onside after a poor start to the season, beating the Toffees would be a great way of doing it.
The veteran defender has performed admirably so far this season, helping to secure clean sheets against Southampton, Tottenham and Swansea. Jagielka looks to be having a superb influence on the young John Stones too, something Roberto Martinez will be delighted to see. There have been times in the past when Jagielka has not looked good enough, but those times are in the past—he looks to be an England stalwart now, and it would be a surprise if he was not in the team for Euro 2016. The Everton defender will need to be at his very best to keep Sturridge from scoring though—the Toffees can’t be as leaky as they were against West Brom here.
Milner has finally shown up for Liverpool, earning MotM against his former Villa team in their last league outing. He scored one and assisted another, a great return for a player often denigrated for being dull or workmanlike in his play. This is what Rodgers acquired him for, and he needs Milner to step up now more than ever with Henderson out of action in midfield. Milner will be in fierce combat with James McCarthy on Saturday, a very even contest but one he needs to win if the Reds are going to get the right result at Goodison.
Lukaku has now scored 45 goals since 2012/13—something only Van Persie, Aguero and Suarez have bettered. Do Everton have a genuine superstar in the making? Despite the stats, the Belgian hasn’t always delivered—particularly last season. He looks the business this time around though, with a phenomenal performance against West Brom. As well as scoring twice and assisting once, he earned MotM in a thrilling victory for Everton. That takes him to 4 goals in 7 appearances, and Martinez will want him to terrorise a porous Liverpool defence.
It takes a lot of mental and emotional strength to come back from a layoff like the one Daniel Sturridge has endured. There are countless tales of players who were never able to recover fully (or even at all). Reds fans were entitled to wonder—would the young English star be the same upon his return? Sturridge answered that in emphatic style against Villa last weekend with a brace. Liverpool and England fans will rejoice.