There are not many more intense rivalries, certainly in English football, than Liverpool versus Everton, the battle for Merseyside. Liverpool may have dominated with titles and European Cups, but when Derby Day arrives, form and history is irrelevant. Goodison Park has hosted some memorable victories over the Reds whilst Anfield has been a stage for drama between the two.
Here’s the Merseyside Perfect XI in preparation for another installment this weekend.
The Spanish stopper is the best goal keeper they’ve had in the last decade, at least. Unbelievable reflexes, quick off his line and better distribution than most in his role. His bizarre assist for Andy Johnson in 2006 aside, he was a constant reliable player for the Reds, especially under the guidance of Rafa Benitez.
One of the few success stories of Roberto Martinez’s time at Everton. The marauding Irishman is one the Blues’ star men, a consistent performer and has a good knack of arriving at the back post on time for a goal. It was incredibly sad to see him carried off against Wales after a horrific injury, a huge miss for Everton, with a great future.
He may have adorned a blue jersey recently for an interview, but Carragher is Mr.Liverpool. A stereotypical old-school defender, hard into every tackle, an organizer and immense leader of men, he would carry his side to victories.
It’s safe to say the Reds defence has not yet recovered from losing him to retirement, but it’s never easy to fill in a world class void.
A relatively unknown signing, Hyypia became a fan favorite at Anfield and left as one of the best signings the club ever made. At just £2.6 million, the Finland centre half struck a solid partnership with Carragher, contributing to their remarkable Champions League triumph in 2005, as he scored against Juventus in the quarters.
A multiple FA Cup winner as well, a very underrated star of Benitez’s side.
A wand of a left foot, he has been a great servant to the Blue half of the Mersey. He may not be at the level he was a few years ago, but he is still a trusted full-back, capable of overlapping and getting back to defend.
There aren’t many modern day full-backs who can defend and attack to a consistent level, yet Baines is one of few who can very often.
After announcing his retirement at the end of the season recently, more people are appreciating the talent of Alonso. He was arguably his best at the Reds, a pass-master and conductor from deep. Forever in Liverpool hearts for his Champions League final equalizer, he is one of the best foreigners the club have ever had and have struggled to replace him since.
A youth at Barcelona, Arteta brought some added flair and class to Goodison Park. Excelling as a number 10, the Spaniard varied from long-range belters to set piece specialist. A vital cog in David Moyes’ team that constantly drifted under the top four, a quality signing and performer for the Blues.
The first player on the team-sheet. A world-class central midfielder, adaptable to play box-to-box, behind the striker or as a holding man. Scoring a hat-trick against his bitter rivals at Anfield, on his 400th Premier League match, will be one of the best moments of his established career, legend.
The best foreign player to play for Everton? I think so. In the air, not many players won the ball ahead of the Australian. A constant thorn in Liverpool’s battles with Everton, he was the spark in Moyes’ team as he built a unit that would move the club to really contest with their foes.
The dynamic and often hot-headed Uruguayan was the difference in many derbies, scoring four in six clashes. The phrase ‘world class’ is used a lot, but Suarez is of that caliber, one of the best to grace English football. Also, his dive in front of Moyes at Goodison is a great moment.
The best striker in the world during his spell with Liverpool. El Nino had it all, pace, power, the touch and finish. Whether a blonde bombshell or a black beauty, Torres delivered on the big occasions and Derby Day was always one of them.
It’s a top team but some who missed out deserve a mention. Phil Jagielka has been an ever present for Everton and his stoppage time screamer at the home of their rivals, is something special. Luis Garcia, an admired opposition player of mine, was very underrated at Liverpool, and turned up for the Derby. Tim Howard is another unlucky near miss as is Marouane Fellaini, who was an important player, despite the criticism he brings.
All eyes are pealed on Anfield for the next Merseyside Derby, hopefully for Everton Ronald Koeman fairs better than Martinez did last season.