David Moyes, Everton FC
CAN this finally be Everton’s time to confirm their Merseyside ascendancy?
This must be the first time in a long time that, going into a derby, there is such a gap between the teams with the Goodison outfit clearly the better off.
And I don’t just mean in terms of points; in terms of quality, Everton are right now in a healthier position than Liverpool.
This is a great time for David Moyes’s side to be playing their neighbours, with Liverpool clearly still finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers.
Certainly, it’s all change since the days of Rafael Benitez bemoaning the “small” club from across Stanley Park.
But the fates aren’t helping Everton.
Steven Pienaar is a massive loss when you consider Marouane Fellaini and Darron Gibson could also both be out.
The relationship between Pienaar and Leighton Baines down the left flank is as good as anything else in the Premier League right now.
This was always going to be a problem for Everton. When you strip them of two or three first-team regulars, then there isn’t quite the same quality.
If those three don’t play, then from Liverpool’s point of view the fixture won’t be quite as daunting.
That said, Everton will hope the players who do come in would be keen to disprove the theory that there isn’t sufficient strength in depth in the squad.
If only one of Fellaini and Gibson could return to fitness, then Moyes would most likely prefer it to be the former.
He provides something extra at the business end of the pitch and that’s an important thing in derby matches.
Fellaini can get a goal, cause mayhem and play in between midfield and Nikica Jelavic.
Phil Neville and Leon Osman played in central midfield at QPR but neither were in their preferred position. In an ideal world, they wouldn’t be the first-choice pairing.
If I was Moyes, I’d be tempted to throw John Heitinga in central midfield. He has experience, which will come in handy in the ferociousness of a derby. He can do a job if he keeps himself on the pitch.