The Merseyside Derby is one of the oldest and most fierce rivalries in English football.
It stems from the split between Everton and Liverpool that happened in 1892. Everton had been based at Anfield, the location of Liverpool’s stadium today.
However, the team had a disagreement about rent with the owner of the stadium, which ended in Everton moving to build a new stadium at Goodison Park.
This meant that John Houlding, the owner of the stadium had no team to play in it.
To solve this problem, he founded Liverpool Football Club. After just a couple of years, the first Merseyside derby was held.
By this time tempers had cooled and the clubs have co-existed alongside each other ever since.
The derby is often referred to as the “friendly derby”, since just 400m separates their two homes, meaning support is not territorial and there is seldom trouble at derby games.
Despite this friendly name, the game is always hard fought by players, and the fans of the winning side are quick to taunt (in mostly good spirit) the opposing side after the game.
The 2019/20 season has seen plenty of this Evertonian-Liverpudlian banter, as Liverpool sit at the top of the Premier League after having the best ever start to a Premier League season since its inception in 1992.
Salt in the Wound
The recent 3rd round FA Cup match between the two sides was a particularly frustrating loss for the blues.
They lost the game 1-0 against their neighbours. While on its own, a 1-0 defeat is not the worst score to lose by, Evertonians were left humbled by the age of Liverpool’s squad.
Liverpool’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, put out the youngest team seen for a long time with several 18 year old players.
The only goal of the game came in the 71st minute, when Curtis Jones got the ball past Jordan Pickford with a curler from 20 yards out. Jones, 18, is now the youngest ever goal scorer in a Merseyside Derby since Robbie Fowler.
Two Decades of Defeat
It is now more than 7,400 days since Everton won against Liverpool at Anfield. Their last win was a 1-0 victory against the reds in September 1999.
Since that game, the two scouse teams have gone head to head at Anfield 24 times. 10 of these games have ended in a draw, the other 14 have ended in a Liverpool win.
Things Looking Up?
Things are looking up for Everton though. As Yerry Mina returns to match fitness, the blues will be taking on Newcastle United at home, where they are clear favourites to win.
However, there is still no news about the return of Nigerian national player, Alex Iwobi who is suffering from a Hamstring injury.
Aside from this game, the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti as the new manager in late December is a positive for the blues. They have suffered a bad start to the season, winning just 8 of their 22 games with a -7 goal difference.
Since his appointment, Everton have won more of their games than they haven’t, including a 1-0 victory against Burnley in his debut game. Perhaps this could be a sign of things to come as they remain favourites in their upcoming games.
On his appointment, Ancelotti declared he was hungry to win trophies with Everton, and that he would put the team on a journey to return to its former glories.
Having managed teams like PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, Ancelotti has won 15 major trophies in five separate countries, proving that he certainly knows what it takes to win.
To start his new team on this journey to glory, he will begin by making a few transfers in the January transfer window.
However, Ancelotti’s first and most important task will be to save Everton from relegation, which had been a real risk heading into Christmas.
Now that they have got a few more points on the board, fans can feel a degree of confidence that the future is looking brighter for the blue half of Merseyside.