This is surely Everton's best chance to win at Anfield for many years. Stephen Tudor however expects a backlash from their rivals in crisis...
"A narrative has formed this week that this is Everton’s best chance yet of ending their Anfield hoodoo and all things considered it is hard to disagree with that."
The last time Everton won at Anfield, Christina Aguilera was singing about a genie in a bottle.
The last time the Toffees won a derby at Goodison, Andy Robertson was still in high school.
It's fair to say then that the blue half of Merseyside have had to settle for second best in this famous fixture for some considerable time. Indeed, their track record in these neighbourly disputes since emerging with the points across Stanley Park in 1999 makes for some dispiriting reading. The Blues have taken on their historic rivals 47 times. They've won just 4, drawn 19 and lost 24.
Might that change for the better this Saturday as the Toffees look to bring themselves level with Jurgen Klopp's men in the table with a game in hand? Certainly, the timing of this derby is fortuitous for the visitors with the reigning champions spiraling into a crisis that's left them a shadow of their former selves. The so recently mighty Reds have won only two of their last ten Premier League games and have failed to score in half of them. Their makeshift defence meanwhile has conceded more than relegation battlers Brighton and Burnley this term.
For their part Everton have amassed 23 points from a possible 33 on their travels, a return that includes victories at Spurs, Leicester and Leeds.
All of which leads us to a delicious irony: that Evertonians have spent the 21st century bracing themselves for this game and desperately hoping that the form book flies out of the window. On Saturday they will hope it stays exactly where it is.
Expect a reaction
A narrative has formed this week that this is Everton's best chance yet of ending their Anfield hoodoo and all things considered it is hard to disagree with that. It is however an assessment that comes with some significant caveats.
Because for all of their injuries and stray passing and startling decline into ordinariness this is still a Liverpool squad that possesses the mental fortitude to accrue 196 points across two campaigns and with a nation looking on mostly smirking their pride will be stinging.
This potentially makes them a very dangerous reactive side right now; a tiger that has perhaps had its tail pulled one too many times.
"It's an interesting challenge but we will sort it," Klopp insisted earlier this week. "I'm ready, the boys are ready, and we will give our absolute everything."
Already we have seen a defiant response in the form of an impressive Champions League triumph against RB Leipzig last Tuesday and should Everton be the next recipients of Liverpool's frustrations we can surely expect Mo Salah to play an integral role. The striker has bagged 24 goals in 34 appearances this season.
For a more unlikely hero look no further than Divock Origi. The peripheral Belgium has scored five from five starts in this fixture.
Origi is 11/1 to score two or more goals
A tale of two Toffees
Liverpool's depths of reserve though should not be viewed as a given. 'Potentially': that's the key word from above.
A collapse at Leicester at the first sign of resistance revealed their confidence is extremely brittle at present and understandably so. It's pertinent too that on six occasions this season Klopp's side have taken the lead only to concede within twenty minutes.
Which must make it all-the-more exasperating for Evertonians that their own team remains an unknown quantity, incapable of consistency. Frankly, after a blistering start you are now completely in the dark as to which Everton will emerge from the tunnel from one game to the next. Sometimes sharp and purposeful, other times aimless, their roller-coaster 3-3 draw at Old Trafford was their season to date encapsulated inside 90 minutes.
At least they do have one reliable source in Dominic Calvert-Lewin and his probable return from injury for this crucial clash is a huge boost. The Toffees missed their talisman terribly in defeats to Fulham and Manchester City and the England striker has been directly involved in 42.8% of his side's goals this season.
It also bodes well that Ancelotti's side have a welcome habit of scoring early - 34% of their goals have been converted inside the opening half an hour - and better still, once ahead they tend to hold on. Only once have Everton lost from the 12 occasions they have got their noses in front.
Stats vs Gut
Let's strip away the reputations of the respective sides. Let's ignore the loud chatter about crisis and even the geography and history of this contest. If we focus solely on the numbers what do we find?
We find a team in seventh place travelling - an admittedly short distance - to a team in sixth. The latter have picked up just nine points from a possible 30 since Christmas and have been defeated in their last three at home. The visitors meanwhile have lost just twice all season on the road.
Suddenly, the 11/2 available on an Everton victory sounds too good to be true?
Yet a game of this magnitude is very rarely pre-determined by stats. And if your instincts are screaming at you that Liverpool are poised to fiercely prove a point this weekend the shorter odds of 40/85 on a Reds win should not be overlooked.
0-0 and as you were
There is of course one final factor it would be negligent to ignore.
Because if the prospect of Everton finally ending their derby despair is a fascinating thought while this is undoubtedly a defining game for the short-term future of Klopp's grand project, the fixture too has a big part to play.
And it's a fixture laden with 0-0 stalemates.
There have been five in the last 16 meetings, a figure that exceeds coincidence and it's additionally highly relevant that this season as a whole has underwhelmed us regularly with goal-less affairs.
At this stage last term the top-flight had 'treated' us to just seven 0-0 encounters. In empty stadia that has sharply risen to 18.
The 13/1 for no-score draw is a great insurance bet to add in with other options