Everton will make the short trip across Stanley Park to face Liverpool at Anfield in the second Merseyside Derby of the season on Monday night.
There has been very little for both clubs to get excited about this season, so this fixture could represent a springboard to kickstart one side’s campaign.
Liverpool come into the fixture still as big favourites, and with good reason, given that they have lost just one of the last 25 derbies played at Anfield.
However, they are in similar form to which preceded that only previous home derby defeat since the turn of the millennium, in 2021.
During that season, Everton were one of six sides who beat Liverpool at Anfield in succession, ending Liverpool’s 22-year unbeaten run over the blue half of Merseyside on home soil.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are on just as bad of a run now in 2023, as they are still yet to win a league game since the turn of the year.
Four matches so far in 2023 have yielded just one point for the Reds as they are languishing down in tenth, as well as being out of both domestic cups which they won last season.
They are also without a goal in their last three Premier League outings, one of which was a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Anfield – the first time they had failed to score at home in 33 league matches.
In their last encounter, a 3-0 thrashing at Wolverhampton Wanderers, they looked a shadow of the side that was agonisingly close to claiming an unprecedented quadruple less than 12 months ago.
However, Everton’s last win here in front of a crowd came in 1999, so there is every chance Liverpool can use it as a platform to build on should they get the win they are expected to claim.
For that to happen, they will need to improve on their performance from the reverse fixture at Goodison Park earlier in the season though.
The sides played out a goalless draw but Liverpool were fortunate to come away with a point after Conor Coady’s goal was ruled out for a very tight offside call thanks to the assistance of VAR.
That result was the 12th time that this fixture has ended 0-0 – the most of any in Premier League history.
Everton would be more than happy for a similar scoreline here as the sides meet again, with every point critical in their fight for survival.
Coming to Anfield is usually enough of a challenge at the best of times, but Everton are on a run of just two wins in their last 27 away Premier League games.
In Sean Dyche’s first away game as manager, the Toffees will hope his brand of football can help bring them more sensational results like the one they earned last weekend against league-leaders Arsenal.
In a dominant display, Everton out-ran and out-fought the Gunners who were left shell-shocked at a rowdy Goodison Park, with the hosts winning by a goal to nil.
It was a welcome relief for Everton as it ended a 10-game winless run where they picked up just two points in that spell.
Despite the win, Everton remained in the bottom three at the end of the weekend, and a draw for Leeds United in midweek extended the gap from safety to a point.
Everton’s problem, especially during the final few weeks of Frank Lampard’s tenure, was losing against the sides in and around them, so Dyche’s main task will be to pick up wins against their direct rivals.
This match, therefore, will essentially be a free-hit for Dyche, as many of the Everton faithful are not expecting a result, but picking up any points will be a huge bonus, as it will also extend their local rival’s woeful run of form.
During Liverpool’s dreadful run of form at home in 2021, Dyche was the man who oversaw the first of those six-straight home defeats when in charge of Burnley, so he has been here and done it before, and Evertonians will cling onto that to give them some additional hope.
Some positive news for Liverpool is that Diogo Jota is set to be named in the squad after a lengthy injury lay-off.
Brazilian duo Roberto Firmino and Arthur are both back in full training too, but a start looks unlikely at this stage.
Klopp has said this week that the fixture may just come too soon for Virgil van Dijk, and with Ibrahima Konate also sidelined, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are set to start.
Luis Diaz remains out while Thiago is also injured again, but Fabinho could come back into the fold after being left out last week.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is not expected to be fit enough to feature here for Everton after the striker was taken off on the hour mark last weekend.
James Garner and Andros Townsend are not ready yet after long-term injuries while defensive pair Nathan Patterson and Michael Keane remain out.
There are unlikely to be any tactical changes from the side that beat Arsenal last Saturday, as Dyche implemented a new 4-5-1 formation, with Neal Maupay replacing the injured Calvert-Lewin up front the only expected change.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo
Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Coady, Tarkowski, Mykolenko; Iwobi, Onana, Gueye, Doucoure, McNeil; Maupay