After yet another painstakingly tedious international break, which brought fresh injuries to both Merseyside teams, the premier league can return to lighten up our weekends.
What a month of sport we have ahead. With the final stretch of premier league games coming our way, we also have the masters at Augusta, the Grand National at Aintree, even the snooker world championships up in Sheffield may tickle your fancy. But in the eyes of Merseysiders, none of these events even remotely get close to the derby.
Derby day in Liverpool is one like no other.
A city which is united as one for 363 days of the year, becomes temporarily split into the colours of red and blue for the remaining two.
Derby day has produced some of the most aggressive and exciting games throughout its history, like many other derbies around the world. Yet this one remains unique. Both clubs have an ability to keep what is a special connection forged off the field, through unity and the fight for justice, as well as pure rivalry whilst on the field.
A special bond between two special clubs. Source: Clint Hughes/Associated Press
Staying on the field, the gap between Liverpool and Everton has narrowed significantly.
With Liverpool only winning three out of their last 10 fixtures, and Everton winning seven in as many games, Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp have found themselves looking over their shoulders. Everton are within six points of Liverpool which could be cut to three with a win for the toffees.
With this quiet surge from Everton, Jürgen Klopp’s worries have been further worsened by Adam Lallana being ruled out for the next four weeks with a thigh injury. This is not the first occasion in which a Liverpool player has been overworked on England duty, and it certainly won’t be the last.
What we can only imagine to be Klopp’s face when told about Adam Lallana’s absence ahead of the derby. Source: Reuters
One player who should be waiting in the wings to take his place is Daniel Sturridge, a player who hasn’t made a premier league appearance since early February, with illness and a slight hip strain keeping him side-lined. With such poor excuses for injuries, coupled with an urgency to revitalise not just his Liverpool career, but also his premier league career, Sturridge should be itching to get on the pitch, knocking on the door of Klopp, and working harder than ever in training to prove his worth.
Looking on the blue half of Merseyside, it has not been the happiest of returns from the international break either. Seamus Coleman suffered a severe double leg break whilst away with the Republic of Ireland after an ‘unintentional’ sliding challenge from Neil Taylor. The injury has left Coleman out for at least six months and Everton without one of their star performers of the season.
But all is not lost as the most likely of replacements, Mason Holgate, has performed admirably when called upon this season, like so many other Everton academy graduates.
With Romelu Lukaku looking to add further zeros onto his inevitable summer transfer fee, this derby poses to be as exciting as any, but a loss for either team could have serious consequences to their long term ambitions.
Feature Image: Getty Images