Premier League action returns with a bang this weekend as the Merseyside derby kicks off the run in.
Liverpool have been in shaky form so far in 2017 unlike Everton, who are unbeaten since their FA Cup exit in the third round. With Champions League football in sight, both sides will want the three points, let alone bragging rights.
Jurgen Klopp has to make do without Adam Lallana after he picked up a thigh injury on England duty.
Jordan Henderson is unlikely to feature due to an ankle injury. He could however come on as a late substitute as he steps up his recovery.
Long term absentees, Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge are still nowhere near a return.
Everton are without two key players after they picked up nightmare injuries playing for their countries.
Seamus Coleman suffered a double leg break on International duty during Republic of Ireland vs Wales. Ramiro Funes Mori picked up an knee injury in Argentina’s 2-0 defeat to Bolivia so too won’t play any part in the Merseyside derby.
Ronald Koeman is also missing Yannick Bolasie and Morgan Schneiderlin with knee and calf injuries respectively.
Muhamed Besic is nearing a return from his knee injury but will play no part at Anfield.
James McCarthy however has no return date for his hamstring injury, after it flared up again before Republic of Ireland’s draw with Wales.
Tight battle brewing?
This is one derby that both sides won’t want to lose with Champions League qualification on the line.
Liverpool currently occupy the last qualification spot but a win for Everton will mean its game on for fourth place. The Toffees have only lost one away game this calendar year so expect them to fight till the end.
The Reds home form has started to perk up with wins over Tottenham and Arsenal in recent weeks. Their record against fellow top half sides is impeccable making them favourites here as they seek to continue a rise in form.
Temper wise, this fixture has produced more red cards than any other fixtures. Ronald Koeman will be hoping that his side are better behaved than in past meetings with his Blues collecting seven of the last eight red cards
Everton might have an injury crisis now but a positive omen is that no Liverpool manager has won their first three consecutive Merseyside derbies.
Expect Liverpool to push all the way but can see Everton nicking this derby by a single goal.
Romelu Lukaku will be dangerous with such a strong midfield to assist him. He has only scored once at Anfield but this might be his time to shine with the Golden Boot up for grabs.
Jurgen Klopp will need his defence to be solid because they have conceded in their last four league matches. The defending on show in 2017 has been inconsistent and their unbeaten record against top half clubs has to go soon.
There is a midweek round coming up with both clubs facing different opposition. Liverpool will be at home to Bournemouth whereas Everton travel up the M62 to face Manchester United in a critical game for both teams.
Taking that into account, expect an edgy contest with Romelu Lukaku nicking the points very late on.
Prediction: Liverpool 0-1 Everton
Result: Liverpool 3-1 Everton