Today at Anfield Liverpool will take on Everton in the Merseyside derby. The 13:30 kick-off between these two sides will have the usual respect that is held between these two great pillars of English football and as a mark of gratitude Liverpool fans will unveil a giant mosaic spelling out the word ‘THANKS’ to their cross-city rivals.
Because for all the animosity and furore that surrounds this game on the pitch as a city the two clubs are always united; something proved by Everton fans continued support for the many Hillsborough campaigns and inquiries which have been so prevalent in 2012 and 2013.
But for all that respect once the whistle blows at early afternoon Anfield all will be forgotten; and as usual you can expect a rip-roaring affair from these two sides.
The flames have already been stoked this week with the likes of Sylvain Distin, Steven Gerrard and Jose Enrique all having their say; all of which adds to an already high stakes match-up.
And for Liverpool victory could be the most influential they have ever had over their Mersey rivals.
The teams currently occupy sixth and seventh position and while Liverpool realistically have no chance of making it into Europe next season Everton are well and truly in with a shout.
But with Tottenham and Arsenal both winning on Saturday Evertonian’s know that if they cannot do something never done under David Moyes at Anfield they are effectively out of the European running.
In ten games at Anfield Moyes has never won; with five draws and defeats apiece from his 10 visits.
With the Scotsman ascertaining this week that European qualification is necessary to attract a certain calibre of player to Goodison Park in the summer he knows that duck must end today.
The consequences of it not are pretty simple.
Moyes will likely leave the club. His contract ends at the end of the season and after another failed January transfer market it seems he may have taken this team as far as he can. Defeat at Anfield would likely be Moyes’ last Merseyside derby.
But without European football Everton are surely also destined to lose Maraoune Fellaini; who has been linked with numerous top clubs from around Europe. Without European football to keep the Belgian happy he is likely to search pastures new; in fact he might even if Everton do earn a Europa League spot.
But recently rumours have also started to circulate that Leighton Baines may also consider an exit this summer. With Tottenham Hotspur reportedly keen to add the England international to their ranks as a Benoit Assou-Ekotto replacement usurping Spurs in the European fight could be pivotal.
The pivot in question is this game today; possibly the most important Merseyside Derby since the 1980’s for Everton; and one in which Liverpool would love to burst their bubble.
It should be a classic.
How do you think the game will finish?
image: © Nigel Wilson