Liverpool secured a significant victory on Wednesday when they blew Leeds away 6-0 at Anfield.
The result saw the Reds close the gap on Manchester City at the top of the table to just three points, firmly reigniting this season’s Premier League title race.
The Reds will switch their attention away from the league this weekend as they head to Wembley to battle with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final, although there’s no doubt that Jurgen Klopp and his squad will have one eye on events at Goodison Park on Saturday evening.
That’s because Man City travel to Everton in a rare fixture in which many Liverpool supporters will be cheering on their Blue neighbours.
Everton will be looking to hand City consecutive league losses for the first time this season after Pep Guardiola’s men suffered a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham last weekend, however, the Toffees don’t have a great record against their Manchester counterparts, losing each of their last eight head-to-head league clashes.
This would suggest that a comfortable away win looks almost guaranteed. However, Everton’s poor campaign under ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has left them in a precarious position near the foot of the Premier League table.
It’s now on new manager Frank Lampard to try and turn their fortunes around, and although Guardiola boasts a pretty dominant record against English managers, winning 24 of his last 25 meeting, it’s worth noting that Lampard was the one English boss who managed to get the better of Guardiola in that run.
That particular 2-1 win over City came when he was in charge of Chelsea, and it’s a victory that many Liverpool fans will remember fondly as it was the game that sealed their title as Premier League champions in June 2020.
A good omen?l
In that game, Lampard got his tactics absolutely spot on. He played a 4-3-3 formation and looked to make the middle areas compact and tough for City play through.
This is key because although City can punish you in the wide areas, the talent they have in the middle of the pitch through players such Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan can present the biggest immediate threat to goal.
In that game back in June 2020, City dominated possession, but struggled to carve open many clear-cut chances, mainly due to their inability to get key men on the ball in the middle of the pitch.
Chelsea on the other hand did a great job and remaining compact without the ball before springing into life with dangerous quick counter-attacks when they won it back.
City finished with a possession share of 66%, but attempted just two shots on target and were well-beaten in terms of the xG – 4.05 vs 0.49 (includes a penalty for the home side).
Although Everton’s squad isn’t as strong as Chelsea’s, there’s every chance we could see a similar tactical approach from Lampard this weekend.
At Southampton last week, Everton’s played a 4-4-2 but were often overrun through the middle. It’s therefore likely that Lampard will switch his side to a midfield three this weekend, especially given that his squad has been boosted by the return of Abdoulaye Doucoure.
This should make Everton pretty compact through the middle, while the return of Demarai Gray combined with players like Antony Gordon, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin can provide the hosts with some real threat on the break.
It’d still be a shock if Lampard’s side were able to get anything out of the game with the champions this weekend, yet Everton’s desperate need for points means that they’ll be highly motivated to do the best they can, and maybe with Lampard at the helm, they’ll have a fighting chance.
Doing Liverpool an unlikely favour would hand the Reds a huge psychological boost not only in the title race but also heading into their first domestic cup final since 2016.