Glasgow, Buenos Aires, Manchester and the North-East can keep theirs—for me, Liverpool vs. Everton, the Merseyside derby, is the best in the world. I love when the time rolls around each season for the derby match; the massive build-up all week when Red and Blue mix and clash and talk and claim that this is their best-prepared side in years and that victory will be theirs, all the while dreading inside what will happen if they actually lose.
It’s huge, it’s massive, it’s right there in front of us, next week.
Everton play at home in the first derby of this season and the match at Goodison Park will be one Liverpool will be desperate to win having not won either of the clashes last season—Everton won comfortably 2-0 at home before an entertaining 2-2 draw was fought out at Anfield soon after Kenny Dalglish took up the reins.
Sit back, enjoy and roll on next week!
12. Red Cards
You just know that someone is going to get one.
Since the Premier League started, no league fixture has seen more sendings off than the Merseyside derby. Fiery tackles, high-octane high-tempo matches and massive pressure sometimes gets the better of players.
And sometimes, Tim Cahill is just a dirty little bastard.
20 red cards have been shown for players to receive their marching orders in this fixture since 1992-93, eight for Liverpool and 12 for Everton.
Here’s the full list:
Robbie Fowler, David Unsworth, Sander Westerveld, Steven Gerrard x2, Francis Jeffers, Thomas Graveson, Igor Biscan, David Weir, Gary Naysmith, Milan Baros, Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville x2, Andy van der Meyde, Tony Hibbert, Tim Cahill, Lucas Leiva, Soto Kyrgiakos and Steven Pienaar.
11. Predicting the Starting Eleven
You buy your match-day programme and replica merchandise around the ground, you load up your computer stream, you head to the local pub or you turn on Sky Sports.
Whatever your match-day routine, one thing never changes—at some point in the build-up, you turn your mind to what the starting line-up will be for your team, and maybe even for the Blue Shite.
Who would have thought that for Rafa Benitez, in his first derby as Liverpool manager would drop Xabi Alonso in favour of Salif Diao? Or that in 1997-98 in Roy Evans’ last derby in sole charge of the first team, Aussie midfielder Nicky Rizzo, who never made a first team appearance for Liverpool, would suddenly make the bench for a derby match?
Derbies are unpredictable occasions and that goes for the managers sometimes just as much as events on the field during the game itself.
10. Knock-out Cup Fixtures
Unfortunately there haven’t been too many cup ties involving Liverpool and Everton since the inception of the Premier League and for that reason only, this item is a little lower down on the list than might be expected.
In fact, since 1992-93 there has only been one occasion when the sides met; in an FA Cup fourth round tie three seasons ago they met at Anfield and fought out a 1-1 draw with Steven Gerrard and Joleon Lescott on the score-sheet. Everton won the replay with a late-in-extra-time Dan Gosling goal.
Prior to the early ’90s though, all-Merseyside cup ties were a relatively regular occurrence; none more poignant or memorable of course than the 1989 FA Cup final (pictured) where the Reds triumphed 3-2 after extra time on a day which was about so much more than just the football.The replay at Goodison Park ended up 1-0 to Everton after extra time with Lucas seeing red for Liverpool and Dan Gosling netting the late winner.
Kenny Dalglish’s first stint as Liverpool manager indeed effectively came to an end in the midst of a three-match cup replay marathon in 1991; after a 0-0 Anfield stalemate and a 4-4 Goodison Park thriller, the Toffees eventually triumphed 1-0 in the second replay.
9. Winding Up Work Colleagues, Family, Friends and Random People You Know
We all do it, because we’re so glad it’s not us on the receiving end!
Whether it’s the score-line, the performance or an off-field matter; whether by way of a text message, a joke, a picture or a banner held in the crowd, winding up the opposition fans that you know is a way to show your team is best and you know it, they know it and everybody in football knows it.
Until the next time you get beaten, obviously.
8. Match Day Atmosphere
During the game itself, the Merseyside derby match atmosphere can be anything from loud and passionate to some way past fiery and hate-filled these days.
Before kick-off, however, it’s all about the songs—backing your team, lifting yourselves and the players and trying to intimidate the opposition through a huge show of Red strength.
7. League Table Satisfaction
For a few short hours a season, the entire Premier League table doesn’t matter.
Whether you’re top four or relegation zone, middle of the table or a point off the top, it doesn’t matter.
All that matters is that you are above the Bitters.
A win for Liverpool on Saturday will leave them at least four places above Everton and six points clear.
An Everton victory means the teams will be level on points and the Blues will be above the Reds on goal difference.
6. Regular Derby Day Heroes
It takes a fearless kinda guy to stand up and be counted in a Merseyside derby, again and again and again.
Not only is that player likely to be hugely adored by his own fans (at least for a while) but they will also be enormously detested by half the city they live in.
But sometimes it just so happens that a particular match brings out the best attributes in a goalscorer and the Merseyside derby definitely does that to some people.
The great Ian Rush scored a huge 25 goals for Liverpool against Everton, including a famous four in one game which has been immortalised in song on the Kop.
Of the current crop of players, Everton’s Tim Cahill has netted five times in these fixtures (and without a goal since halfway through last season, wouldn’t it be typical for him to end that barren run on Saturday?), while the same number has been scored by Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard.
5. Bringing Through the Local Pride
Over the years some of the finest pieces of action in Merseyside derbies have been given by local players who have come through the ranks of both sides.
Last season Jay Spearing was given a massive boost by being thrown straight into the team by new boss Kenny Dalglish for the derby against Everton and produced a good performance which led to him becoming a fixture in the team over the last month or two of the season.
Before him, obviously Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have had a huge impact—at both ends of the scale—in these matches for years, while Everton have fielded a succession of local players such as Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman (born in Wigan but an Everton youth player) and more recently Jack Rodwell. Other home-grown produced players such as Jose Baxter and Ross Barkley could go on to join the list in the future.
Liverpool have seen the likes of Stephen Warnock, Robbie Fowler and Neil Mellor (again, not Liverpool-born but certainly raised) take part in derbies and this season could add Martin Kelly to that line of players.
For these lads it can be an extra special occasion, at times even more so because members of their families could support both teams, and a debut Merseyside derby is really an event to remember and savour.
4. Really Battering Your Closest Rivals
Any kind of win in a local derby is a special feeling, but there is a certain kind of satisfaction which comes when you absolutely and completely play them off the park.
Last season Liverpool got that handed to them in the first derby game of the season but since it came under the, ahem, stewardship of Hodgson we can discount that as a lesson well learned.
The two games in 2005-06 which finished 3-1 at both Anfield (Gerrard and van der Meyde sent off) and Goodison Park (Arteta and Neville sent off) were both classics from a Red point of view where the scoreline could have been doubled with ease.
A 3-0 in 03-04 was similarly fantastic, while Liverpool were well off the pace and soundly beaten in 06-07 by the same scoreline at Goodison Park when Reina had a bit of a ‘mare.
Here’s hoping for a 6-0 away win on Saturday.
3. Great Derby Day Goals
Smashing a 25-yarder into the far corner of the net is a special feeling whenever you do it—down the park, in your back garden, on the school playing field or on FIFA12, it doesn’t matter, it’s still a great goal.
So what must it feel like to score one of those in a derby match?!
Enjoy ten of the best Merseyside derby goals from recent times.
2. Last Minute Salvation
LIVERPOOL WIN THE DERBY!!!!
1. That Derby Day Victory Feeling
You’ve put in the graft, you’ve sweated your… well, all parts of your body off, you’ve been through the mixer of emotions and you’ve got the bruises to prove it.
And that’s just the fans!
Take a step back and appreciate the work and tackles the players get through in a derby match and just…. remember….after everything that’s come before it…. that full-time feeling when YOU’VE WON.