Liverpool vs Everton is a highlight fixture in the English Premier League calendar, for the Mersey side derby brings plenty of drama infused with a bit of goals each time it comes around. While one side is miles ahead of trophies, just six points separate them in the league table.
So what better way than to stoke the already passionate fans fire, than with an article on a combined XI from the Red and Blue half of Mersey side?
The Statesman has lined up a 4-3-3 formation for you (Yes, Everton do not play a 4-3-3, but for the sake of this article, we assumed they do!).
Goalkeeper: Joel Robles
Among the easiest choices, considering Liverpool’s first choice (Simon Mignolet) doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Mignolet’s performances may not be as calamitous as before, but he is a long way from challenging Robles for the No. 1 shirt. A tally of 8 clean sheets in 12 starts has seen Robles vindicate manager Ronald Koeman’s faith (He deposed Maarten Steklenburg as the first-choice keeper at the end of December).
Left Back: Leighton Baines
A tough choice considering James Milner doesn't do much wrong in most games, but Leighton Baines just about shades this. The deciding factor was their offensive threat (Ironical, considering Milner has outscored Baines 7-2 in the league), as Baines’ brilliant left-foot makes him a genuine threat from set pieces and open play both.
Centre Defence: Ashley Williams
Williams has been impressive this season and his defensive partnership with Phil Jagielka is beginning to show promise, so the ex-Swansea captain was a shoo-in. Liverpool didn't give much of a fight in this one, with Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren either too clumsy or injured too frequently to make a strong push.
Centre Defence: Joel Matip
Matip’s season has been interrupted on several occasions, yes, but he still has enough quality to beat off his fellow Reds defender and the Everton alternative (Jagielka). The Cameroonian is in the prime of his career and while he does make the odd mistake, is a decently solid defender.
Right Back: Nathaniel Clyne
Had Seamus Coleman not suffered a horrific leg in Ireland’s World Cup qualifying game against Wales in the International break, he most certainly would have been included. As things stands, Liverpool’s English full-back, Nathaniel Clyne, makes the cut. Not to say he isn't a good player, just that it is a fact that the speedy defender hasn't quite lived up to his potential at Liverpool just yet.
Left Midfield: Georginio Wijnaldum
Hard-working, always looking to attack the opposition and scores in big games. There isn't much to find fault in Liverpool’s Dutch international, who may not be the flashiest of players, but gets the job done. While Everton don’t have a player who plies his trade in this area, Wijnaldum deserves his place in the combined XI ahead of any Toffees player, at least in this position.
Centre Midfield: Jordan Henderson
A risky pick for sure, considering the Liverpool skipper is recovering from an injury, but various reports suggest he is ready for a start. Morgan Schneiderlin hasn't quite set the field ablaze since his move from Manchester United to the Toffees and Henderson has enough quality to slot in ahead of the Frenchman, for the moment at least.
Right Midfield: Ross Barkley
While Barkley plays much higher up the pitch in Koeman’s 4-2-3-1 formation, he would put in a pretty decent shift even if he played a little further down. The 23-year-old adds a little bit of unpredictability into this XI, as on his day he can deliver edge-of-your-seat action.
Left Forward: Phillippe Coutinho
Like Barkley before him, Coutinho can be unplayable when he wants to be. Liverpool’s gifted Brazilian, the long-range thunderbolts coupled with the mazy dribbles make him a sure-shot pick. While his inconsistent displays prevent him from becoming the Premier League’s finest midfielder (The potential is there!), Coutinho is a worthy inclusion into this Liverpool-Everton combined XI.
Centre Forward: Romelu Lukaku
The easiest pick, Lukaku would probably walk into any team right now. The Premier League’s top scorer is in scalding form at the moment and keeping him quiet will be Liverpool’s number one agenda on Saturday.
Right Forward: Sadio Mane
Arguably Liverpool’s finest player this season, the Senegalese is a sight to behold when in full flight. Goals flow quite easily from the fleet-footed winger's boots and on more than one occasion, he has carried his team with some superlative displays.
Final Score: Liverpool 6, Everton 5