Former Everton striker Louis Saha hopes Carlo Ancelotti’s rejuvenated side can restore some much-needed intensity to the Merseyside derby, even without local representation.
Their last meeting against Liverpool in June, their first match following lockdown, was a dreary goalless draw in which both teams each managed just three shots on target with the visitors having 70 per cent possession.
Of the last eight fixtures four have finished 0-0, three were won 1-0 (twice) and 2-1 by Liverpool with December’s 5-2 success at Anfield the exception.
At Goodison Park on Saturday it will be exactly 10 years since Everton last beat their neighbours but for the first time since September 1989 the top-of-the-table Toffees go into the fixture ahead of their nearest rivals.
Everton are likely to start without a local-born player in their team, while Liverpool have just one – Trent Alexander-Arnold – and Saha, who played for the Toffees between 2008 and 2012, believes that has had an impact on the ferocity of the clash.
“The last three or four derbies I couldn’t recall that intensity, that identity that I remembered,” the Frenchman told the PA news agency ahead of the game, which is available via the BT Sport monthly pass.
“Fifteen years ago it was more: you’d see the face of Steven Gerrard, (Leon) Osman, Hibbo (Tony Hibbert) and you really understood the meaning of those games.
“A local boy will have a story from his grandparents, his dad, so it does remind you of the extra pressure and having three or four boys of that configuration in the dressing room does help a bit more.
“You seemed to work harder, you felt stronger, so it does hurt a lot when you let everyone down when you lose.
“But they (Everton) go in having an experienced manager behind them, one of the best managers in the game, and he will definitely help the players to understand what is needed.
“You have to focus on how to upset the opposition, be very difficult to beat and use the strength of Richarlison and James (Rodriguez) – all those are very concrete tools and James signing brings an extra option in terms of creativity.”
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