LIVERPOOL: Everton played their part in denying Liverpool a long-awaited Premier League title last season, but could now come to the aid of their local rivals on Saturday when Manchester City travel to Goodison Park.
City showed what they are capable of at their destructive best in a 8-0 humiliation of Watford last weekend.
But a shock defeat to promoted Norwich earlier this month means the Premier League champions trail Liverpool by five points at the top of the table.
That gap could easily increase to eight by the time City and Everton do battle if Jurgen Klopp’s men pick up a 15th straight Premier League win away at Sheffield United earlier on Saturday.
The last time Liverpool failed to win a league match was in a 0-0 draw at Goodison back in March, which put the title back in City’s hands.
Pep Guardiola’s men gave the Reds no second chance with a stunning run of 14 straight Premier League wins to retain their title.
Everton fans gloated then at extending the Reds’ wait to win the league to 30 years, but face a dilemma this weekend.
The Toffees are desperately in need of three points that could kickstart their campaign, but inflicting another defeat on City would only strengthen Liverpool’s grip on the title race.
Hopes were high that Everton could be the side to break the stranglehold of the top six after another summer of heavy investment in the transfer window with over £100 million spent on Moise Kean, Alex Iwobi, Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
However, back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Sheffield United leave the blue half of Liverpool in the bottom half despite a kind run of fixtures prior to the champions’ visit this weekend.
Into his second season in charge, Marco Silva is rapidly running out of time to prove he is the man to take Everton forward.
“We have the conditions inside the club to solve this situation,” said Silva after his side lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield United despite conceding just one shot on target as Yerry Mina’s own goal handed the visitors a first-half advantage.
“It is up to me to keep talking with them, it is up to me to keep working with them. More than the words, we have to show on
Everton certainly have the talent to cause a City defense shorn of the injured Aymeric Laporte problems.
Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson have failed to live up to their £50 million price tags so far this season, while Italian international Kean is yet to score his first goal for the club.
But at the other end, a defense that has struggled to cope with Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Sheffield United in recent weeks risks being carved open by a City side keen to show their season will not be defined by one bad night in Norwich.
Separately, FIFA said Friday that Egypt’s votes for national icon Mohamed Salah for the world’s best player award were rejected by the world football’s governing body because they were signed in capital letters and deemed invalid.
Cairo had demanded an explanation after the results of voting for the FIFA Player of the Year were announced Monday but Egypt’s support for Salah was ignored. The Liverpool star placed fourth, 20 votes behind winner Lionel Messi.
The results are based on the votes of national coaches, team captains and members of the press in selecting their top players of the year.
According to FIFA the “signatures on the voting forms were in capital letters and thus seemed not valid (not authentic)” and “the voting forms were also not signed by the General Secretary which is mandatory.”