Everton hosts Liverpool Saturday lunchtime in what should be one of the most even Merseyside derbies in recent years. Neither side has started the 2011/12 Premier League season badly, but neither can say it has hit its best form.
Eleventh-place Everton takes on fifth-place Liverpool at home at Goodison Park in the 216th edition of the famous Merseyside derby. Everton has two wins, a draw, and two losses after five games for seven points, while Liverpool has played six matches and boasts a record of three wins, a draw, and two losses.
Everton finds itself without linchpin Tim Cahill after he picked up an injury against Manchester City, but David Moyes is unlikely to defer from his usual method of flooding the midfield, potentially handing attack-minded Royston Drenthe his first start at Goodison Park.
For the visitors, captain Steven Gerrard is unlikely to start in the derby, but may still make an impact as sub, while young Martin Kelly should again deputize for Glen Johnson, who is out with a rib injury. Andy Carroll started against the Wolves last week and could again be in line to partner Luis Suarez, although Dirk Kuyt does have a formidable scoring record in the derby.
Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is preparing to return to Goodison Park as Liverpool manager for the first time since 1991.
Back then, Dalglish famously quit the Anfield club just days after a tumultuous 4-4 FA Cup tie with the Toffees, citing the pressure of the job and the strain it had taken on him over the years.
Cahill is a doubt for Everton after he sustained a shin injury in a challenge with Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany last weekend. The Australian hasn't trained all week, but Moyes will leave it as late as possible before deciding on the 32-year-old's fitness.
Striker Louis Saha is pushing for a recall after appearing as a substitute against City last weekend but fellow forward Victor Anichebe remains side-lined until December.
For Liverpool, skipper Steven Gerrard looks likely to start from the bench as he edges his way back to full fitness. The England man has played just 25 minutes of competitive football since recovering from a groin operation.
Glen Johnson is out with a hamstring strain, while Daniel Agger will also miss out as he recovers from a rib injury.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Coleman, Neville, Fellaini, Rodwell, Drenthe,
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique, Henderson, Adam, Lucas, Downing, Suarez, Carroll