By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
They call it the Friendly Derby. Any Liverpool defenders who had a run-in with Duncan Ferguson’s elbows may dispute the accuracy of this title. It’s rarely played for the winner-takes-all stakes of league and FA Cup titles it was in the 1980s, but the meeting of Scousetown’s two top-tier clubs remains one of the must-watch games of any Premier League season.
Entertainment, talking points and probably quite a lot of the local humour are virtually guaranteed, but what can we expect from the game? The Paddy Power Blog has examined three myths about Everton and Liverpool in the Merseyside derby that may not really stack up.
Being the home side is good. The massed ranks of your slightly inebriated supporters make a much louder noise than the paltry numbers of your opponent’s slightly inebriated supporters. That’s usually followed by some threats about doing something to the referee’s car and that’s usually followed by the referee taking notice and giving most 50-50 decisions, and a few 40-60 decisions, in the way of the hosts. Football, it truly is the beautiful game.
Home advantage is normally seen as an advantage (there’s a clue in the name), but when it comes to the Merseyside Derby, it’s not as much help as you’d expect. That’s a general trend with just eight of the last 20 meetings (excluding the neutral FA semi-final last season) ending with the hosts claiming victory, but it’s also more relevant to this Sunday’s hosts.
Everton have a woeful recent record at home to their local rivals.
- In their last 10 Merseyside derbies at Goodison Park, Everton have taken nine points out of a possible 30. To make matters worse, thanks to the Toffees’ record of 3-7, it means Liverpool have claimed the missing 21 points during that period, with no draws.
Plus, you can’t even blame it on Everton being a bit crap during that time. That record has been amassed during a period when David Moyes has been recognised as gradually turning the club into a far more competitive outfit and moving them away from the desperate hoofing of the relegation scrap.
Further highlighting the debunking of the myth of the referee leaning towards the hosts is Everton’s recent red card record in the match. Of the last eight red cards that have been handed out to their players, six of them have come at Goodison Park, which at the very least tells us the fans aren’t intimidating referees nearly enough.
Liverpool are the visitors and are 17/10 to win. Brendan Rodgers may not be winning over all the doubters just yet, but he has recent history on his side. That’s probably not as valuable as – let’s say – having a recognised striker in your squad, but it’s something to cling on to.
One cliché about the Merseyside Derby it’s hard to debunk is the bookings. Generally, the referee ends up handing out cards like a croupier on speed. Curiously, in the midst of the flurry of red and yellow cards, there hasn’t been a great deal of penalties awarded.
- In the last 20 Merseyside derbies, the clubs have only profited from a comparatively paltry three penalties – and two of them came in one game and probably earned Mrs Dirk Kuyt a fancy new handbag as her hubby scored all three.
It may not be statistically too different from the norm, but in the environment of a supposedly fast and furious local derby, it’s low. You only need to go back seven games to see three penalties awarded in games between Liverpool and Manchester United.
That’s a mixed blessing for our Money-Back Special which will click if someone scores a penalty in the match. You can view that one of two ways. Either it’s just an anomaly unique to this fixture or it’s below average and a glut of penalties in the near future will see that ratio revert closer to what you’d expect to see. It’s 11/4 for a penalty to be scored on Sunday and it’s up to you to decide if that’s value.
It’s rare that a Merseyside Derby goes by without a major talking point – a bad tackle, a poor refereeing decision, or an even worse Djibril Cisse haircut. Games between the neighbours do tend to provide plenty of entertainment, but oddly, the games can be slow movers. In eight of their last 20 matches, it’s been scoreless at half time. That’s scoreless, not just level, in case you think I’m mixing up my ways of saying ‘a draw’.
That’s not to say exciting stuff like bookings, red cards or Cisse’s hair catching fire due to excessive use of bleach hasn’t happened in the first half, but a lot of the time they have gone in for the half time bollocking with the clean still Daz white. That’s perhaps not all that unusual, but it is a little at odds with the idea that this is a blood and thunder, harum-scarum, roller coaster ride.
It’s 15/8 that it’s 0-0 at half-time this Sunday. The chances of it being 0-0 at full-time are smaller than John Terry’s sense of shame (it’s happened just twice in the last 20 meeting – thrice if you count the FA Cup replay that Everton went on to win AET).
It may not have on the edge of your seat from the first minute, but the end we should have got our pound of entertainment flesh.