FOOTBALL fans can be a superstitious lot, with any omen or portent from history used to predict future success.
And thanks to the excellent website evertonresults.com, Everton supporters have been given good reason to expect derby delight on Sunday.
The last time the Goodison outfit played a home league game on that date, October 28, Andy King scored the famous goal that earned Everton their first win in the fixture in almost seven years.
Not only that, the previous week had seen the Blues held to a 1-1 draw at Queens Park Rangers.
But fate itself won’t determine Sunday’s winner.
Everton head into the 219th Merseyside derby occupying a top-four berth that until recent seasons Liverpool had considered their own.
David Moyes’s side are six points clear of their neighbours and, for arguably the first time in a generation, have a strong claim for possessing a stronger starting line-up.
But, of the players available at the weekend, who would make a combined Merseyside given their form this season?
The city has long been blessed with two good goalkeepers. However, while Tim Howard has almost always had to cede to Anfield counterpart Pepe Reina, the tables have been turned this season.
Reina, by his own admission, has struggled for form during the last 18 months, guilty of a number of uncharacteristic errors in recent months that included one that threatened Liverpool’s participation in the Europa League group stage.
With the Spaniard struggling with a hamstring problem, Brad Jones could deputise for the second successive derby after his FA Cup semi-final appearance at Wembley in April.
Yet there are whispers Reina may benefit from the kick up the backside should Jones in any case be preferred.
Howard, meanwhile, has been a dependable shot-stopper this season, evidenced by a brace of fine saves in the second half at Loftus Road last weekend.
Defensively, neither Merseyside side has been able to lock down a significant number of clean sheets.
Everton, though, can boast arguably the Premier League’s two in-form defenders in Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka.
Left-back Baines has continued his excellent performances of last season while reprising his unparalleled relationship down the left wing with the needlessly-suspended Steven Pienaar, offering Ashley Cole a genuine challenge for the England role.
Jagielka, meanwhile, has emerged as a serious contender for a regular centre-back role under national team coach Roy Hodgson, his performance against QPR typical of the 30-year-old’s impressive start to the campaign.
While Liverpool’s defence has struggled for consistency due to injuries and loss of form, successive Premier League clean sheets suggests Brendan Rodgers’ methods are beginning to take hold.
With Martin Skrtel still coming to terms with the demand to play the ball out from defence, Daniel Agger’s greater natural football ability has meant he has been the stand-out centre-back for the Anfield outfit.
Martin Kelly’s injury and the alarming fall from grace of Jose Enrique have made the full-back berths a minor headache for Rodgers, the Northern Irishman grateful for the versatility of Glen Johnson who has impressed at both left-back and right-back.
Both Rodgers and Moyes employ a similar 4-2-3-1 formation with a single striker as the spearhead.
However, given both Nikica Jelavic and Luis Suarez are among the most dangerous players for either side, it would be foolish to overlook one of them.
Jelavic, while not quite in the same goal-grabbing vein as in the months after his January arrival from Rangers, has nevertheless seemingly sidestepped second season syndrome with three goals in his last three outings.
Suarez, meanwhile, for all the controversy surrounding his diving, has notched seven goals in 11 appearances including a second successive hat-trick at Norwich City.
The other primarily attacking player to have shone is Kevin Mirallas, a pleasant surprise for Moyes after spending £5.3million to sign the winger from Greek side Olympiakos.
The Belgian announced his arrival with two goals in the Capital One Cup win against Leyton Orient and has since proved effective in all three positions in support of Jelavic.
Which leaves the central midfield triumvirate.
Injury has restricted Darron Gibson at Everton, while the progress of Liverpool’s Jonjo Shelvey was hampered by his red card against Manchester United.
Marouane Fellaini looks set to win his battle to be fit for the weekend, with the Belgian’s form – primarily in the attacking third – and now-famed chest control a driving force behind Everton racing out of the blocks in August.
For Liverpool, the instant impact of Joe Allen has no doubt helped enormously with Rodgers’ attempt to ingrain a fresh ideology into his team, the red shirt fitting perfectly on his slender Welsh shoulders.
And although age has perhaps started to take the edge off his trademark explosive bursts, Steven Gerrard continues to underline his importance, not least by adding a goal threat – he has now scored in 15 successive Premier League campaigns – to a Liverpool side that is still seeking firepower throughout the team.
So there it is. On form, this would be the combined Merseyside team of those available on Sunday: Howard; Johnson, Jagielka, Agger, Baines; Fellaini, Allen, Gerrard; Mirallas, Jelavic, Suarez.
What should we take from this?
Everton are no doubt in a more advantageous position than their neighbours at present. But perhaps the shift in power isn’t quite as pronounced as may have been thought.