Mersey rivals ready for Wembley cup semi.
A dramatic injury time winner from Andy Carroll gave Liverpool a first league win since their 3-0 victory over Everton in early March.
And the two Merseyside rivals face each other on Saturday, this time with an FA Cup final place up for grabs.
Even throughout a miserable run of league results during the first quarter of the calendar year, Liverpool have been impressive in cup competitions. Man City, who were runaway league leaders at the time, were dumped from the Carling Cup, before Man United lost at Anfield in the FA Cup – one of only two away defeats to a Premier League team that they have suffered so far this season.
Things have been different for Liverpool in the league however. At 5.00pm on January 21, Everton’s draw with Blackburn had left them nine points behind Liverpool having played a game more.
Liverpool had the possibility of extending that lead to 12 points with a win against bottom-of-the-table Bolton in the day’s evening fixture, but a comfortable win for Bolton was the first of eight defeats that Liverpool have suffered in their 14 Premier League matches since the turn of the year.
In contrast, Everton have enjoyed a consistent run of results that has seen them not only catch their local rivals, but move ahead. Only Arsenal, Newcastle and the two Manchester clubs have gained more league points in 2012 than David Moyes’ men.
Everton don’t score many – their 4-0 win against Sunderland was their first win by more than two goals for exactly a year and the first time they’d scored three in a home match in any competition since mid-September – but they don’t concede many either, and only Chelsea and Liverpool have managed to score more than two goals in a game against Everton during the Blues’ last 56 competitive matches.
Rightly or wrongly Liverpool will be favourites in Saturday’s Wembley showdown, and it’s likely that everyone involved with Everton will be happy for most of the pressure to be on Kenny Dalglish and his team. The blue half of the city know that they’re capable of reaching the final, and don’t have to go far back to recall the last time they won a semi final despite being considered underdogs – in 2009 versus Manchester United.
Liverpool’s losing run may have ended, but Everton should still go to Wembley confident that they can not only finish above Liverpool in the league but also secure a win in the biggest Merseyside derby for more than 20 years.