Liverpool vs. Everton preview: Liverpool's midfield must win battle in the trenches

2M90NMA Brighton v Liverpool Premiership match at The Amex 14th January 2023 - Jordan Henderson has a word with Mohamed Salah during the match

Liverpool and Everton face off in the Premier League on Monday evening in what could be one of the most important Merseyside derbies in recent years.

Both sides are looking for any result to inject some momentum into their disappointing seasons and a win over their rivals might come at just the right time. Liverpool currently sit 10th in the Premier League, having struggled to reach their high standards, only collecting one point since 2023 began.

Everton are 18th, desperately trying to scramble out of a tightly-packed relegation zone. It is odd to say four points out of their last 15 make them the form team coming into this match but new manager Sean Dyche and a shock win against league leaders Arsenal make the Toffees a much more daunting prospect than they would have been a fortnight ago.

This is probably the worst moment for Liverpool to face a side they have previously had great success against, having lost only once in this fixture since 2010.

Liverpool’s Key Player: Darwin Nunez

The game could rest on which version of Darwin Nunez we see on Monday night. Liverpool have seen glimpses of the player he could become but since the World Cup he has regressed, only scoring one goal in eight games. Despite being wasteful at times this season he does have Liverpool’s second-best shooting grade (74.8), however that only counts for 16th in the Premier League among qualifying strikers.

If Nunez does not perform, Liverpool will be relying on star man Mohammed Salah to return to his best and improve upon his 64.0 shooting grade. There is also hope that new signing Cody Gakpo can begin to emulate his successful World Cup where he scored three goals and received an 81.3 shooting grade playing for the Netherlands.

Everton’s Key Player: Dwight McNeil

The former Burnley winger looked rejuvenated teaming up with his old manager for the first time last weekend. McNeil provided the assist for Everton’s winner and finished the game with an 83.0 crossing grade, the second highest that gameweek. He also received a 77.5 challenge grade, contributing to Everton’s first clean sheet since the end of October.

Matchup to Watch: The midfield battle

This game could very well be won in the trenches with midfields trending in opposite directions. Idrissa Gueye and Abdoulaye Doucoure were a breath of fresh air against Arsenal. Gueye had a 72.3 passing grade and a 76 challenge grade while Doucoure recorded 55 pressures, both playing with an energy that was missing under Frank Lampard.

On the other hand, whichever combination of midfield Liverpool go with will be made up of players that have struggled severely. Jordan Henderson holds one of the lowest challenge grades among midfielders this year (58.2), none of their midfielders have a shooting grade over 70 and none of them appear in the top 15 for passing grades.

The upside is that 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic might get another start, one of the few bright spots in a rough season. He had a team-high 80.5 challenge grade in the defeat to Wolves.

Jurgen Klopp will be hoping Anfield under the lights can help them regain some of their magic and put an abrupt end to Everton’s new manager bounce.

All Featured Tools

Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit