Everton vs Liverpool: Five key battles

The Merseyside derby promises to be an explosive encounter at Goodison Park on Saturday; here is where the game will be won.

Everton and Liverpool will do battle for the first time this season on Saturday, with both Merseyside rivals looking for three points to continue progressive starts to the new campaign.

With both sides having match-winners throughout, here are five personal battles that are sure to catch the eye.

Romelu Lukaku vs Daniel Agger

The Belgian powerhouse will be the hosts’ main attacking threat again here, with the visiting defence having a handful with Lukaku.

Whether they play three at the back or a back four, Daniel Agger is likely to play, as Kolo Toure struggles with an injury.

The Dane has forced his way back into the side after a period on the bench and will need to be at his best to nullify the devastating pace and power of Lukaku.

Gareth Barry vs Steven Gerrard

With next summer’s World Cup in mind, Gareth Barry has an excellent opportunity to lay a marker down against the Liverpool skipper.

Both will look to dominate the tight encounters in the boiler room and hence control possession. With the attacking talent ahead of each, this personal battle could go some way to deciding the outcome of the game.

Barry’s work-rate will be something that the Reds need to shackle, while Gerrard will look to get on the ball and make things happen.

Phil Jagielka vs Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan will look to drop deep and pick up the ball between Everton’s midfield and defence, and as such the home side’s centre-backs must be alert in closing his space.

With Phil Jagielka looking to cement a starting position for England, Suarez is the type of class attacking opponent that he will come up against next summer in Brazil.

Able to play the hero or the villain, the stage is set for Suarez either way.

Leighton Baines vs Glen Johnson

These two England full-backs are renowned for their attacking play, with Baines’ delivery and Johnson’s overlapping key attributes of their respective teams’ play.

Both will look to get forward and make the other defend, with the Liverpool right wing-back certain to be busy if the Reds play three at the back.

With both hoping to be their country’s first-choice on the flanks for next summer’s World Cup, their battle should be fascinating viewing.

James McCarthy vs Jordan Henderson

Although Gerrard and Barry are the leaders in their sides, these two up-and-coming midfielders could well have a key role to play.

Both are in form and have excellent ranges of passing and a solid work-rate. Thrown in at the deep-end, both will look to make a name for themselves and further enhance their burgeoning reputations.

image: © Gene Hunt

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