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DERBY FEVER

DERBY FEVER

17 October, 2020

  • Everton host Liverpool

  • Inter tackle AC Milan

  • Tottenham face West Ham on Sunday

 

This weekend promises some thrilling action for football fans in England and Italy as a series of showdowns are expected between local rivals, reports OLUWAMAYOMIKUN OREKOYA .

 

Merseyside Derby

In England, the 288th  Merseyside derby is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating in recent years as surprise early Premier League leaders Everton welcome champions Liverpool to Goodison Park.

This  most anticipated clash of the weekend will see champions Liverpool travelling less than a mile to Goodison Park to face league leaders Everton in the first Merseyside derby of the season.

Today’s derby also happens to be a special occasion on two fronts, marking exactly five years to the day since Klopp took charge of his first match as Liverpool boss, and remarkably 10 years to the day since the Reds were last beaten by Everton.

Jurgen Klopp’s side make the short trip across Stanley Park looking to bounce back from their worst ever Premier League defeat, but they come up against an Everton side leading the way as the only team in the top flight to have won four from four so far this season.

The Toffees top the table with 12 points, while the Kops are fifth on the table with 9 points. Liverpool is looking forward to bouncing back after the 7-2 humiliation they suffered at the hands of Aston Villa last time out.  The form of new signings James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure has only added to the perfection of Everton’s start, and all three of them have tasted victory over Liverpool more recently than Everton as a club have. Calvert-Lewin’s form this season will be a significant threat to The Reds as their defense has been very poor. While Liverpool have one of the worst defensive records in the league, Everton are the joint-leading scorers; while Liverpool’s recent away form is poor, Everton have lost just one of their 14 home games across all competitions under Carlo Ancelotti. Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara are expected to return to the team after being in isolation for two weeks due to coronavirus and should be able to play in their next match.

Meanwhile, it has been reportedly noted that Liverpool are unbeaten in 22 derbies. The last three at Goodison Park have all finished 0-0: Everton had just 29.9 percent of possession in June’s stalemate and their last home goal against Liverpool came when Brendan Rodgers was still in charge. They have only had eight shots on target at home against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.

Those 22 games have often been tight but have featured four emphatic wins: 3-0, 4-0, 4-0 and 5-2, in Silva’s last game, all at Anfield. Liverpool’s capacity to grow stronger as games have progressed is shown in four 90th minute goals, plus others in the 89th and 87th minute.

The combination of Everton’s start, Liverpool’s  7-2 defeat at Aston Villa and the absence of Alisson, who is yet to concede at Goodison, makes this arguably their second best chance to neat Klopp’s side: the best came in January’s FA Cup tie when Liverpool fielded a weakened team and Everton  a full-strength one and Curtis Jones delivered a decider for the depleted hosts.

Perharps, it underlined the inferiority complex which can undermine Everton in derbies. It is a game when the facts and figures about form can be less relevant. But the numbers of Everton’s start suggest they are a team transformed and that, if they are unlikely to remain league leaders, a statue among the top pack may be sustainable.

Derby Della Madonnina

The Derby della Madonnina between Inter and AC Milan is a fixture virtually every Serie A supporter looks forward to and is widely considered one of the major crosstown rivalries not just in the Italian league, but the world.

It is called “Derby Della Madonnina” in honour of one of the main sights in the city of Milan, the statue of the Virgin Mary on the top of the Duomo, which is often referred to as the “Madonnina”.

In December 1899, AC Milan was founded by a couple of English expats, forming one of the first football clubs in Italy. However, eight years on, there was a disagreement amongst its members regarding the signing of foreign players which led to a split, and, subsequently, Internazionale was formed.

This would mark the beginning of a battle between what would become two of the biggest names in world football. The Rossoneri (AC Milan) will go into the game against their city rivals having not lost in their last 19 competitive fixtures stemming back to the resumption of football post-lockdown, but this will be one of their toughest tests in that period.

Inter Milan were a formidable unit last season having a long run in almost every competition but went trophy-less. They were the second-best team in Serie A while facing defeat against Napoli in the semis of the Coppa Italia.

Their UEFA Champions league was short lived after a group stage exit but they made the most of the opportunity in the Europa league as they made it to the finals defeating  Shakhtar Donetsk but fell against Sevilla in the final.

Barring that defeat against Sevilla in the Europa league final, Inter Milan are on a 6-match unbeaten streak so far. They started their Serie A season with a win against Fiorentina and continued their good form against Benevento. In the most recent clash against Lazio, they were forced to draw with both teams getting reduced to just 10 men.

AC Milan didn’t have a season to cherish in 2019 after a disappointing 6th place finish in Serie A. They were better off in Coppa Italia until the semis where they lost against Juventus. They weren’t part of the UEFA Champions league or the Europa League which they would like to be part of, this season.

The team is currently on a 6-match unbeaten streak and have looked swift and compact. They have three outright victories in Serie A so far and are comfortably placed in the second spot.

London Derby on Sunday

Tottenham Hotspur will return to Premier League action ton Sunday with a home game against bitter rivals West Ham United. Jose Mourinho’s side put six past Manchester United at Old Trafford in their last league game on October 4 and have picked up seven points from their first four matches of the 2020-21 campaign.

Gareth Bale is yet to turn out for Spurs since his return due to a knee problem, but the on-loan Real Madrid attacker has stepped up his recovery over the international break, and it is likely that he will be available for Sunday’s clash with David Moyes’s side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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