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The Battle Rages On: The Everton Preview

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Fresh off the international break, Liverpool will be put to the test in the always contentious Merseyside Derby.

Matthew Lewis

US: 7:45am on NBC Sports

UK: 12:45pm on BT Sport 1

Its that time again, when brothers become enemies and friends become frenemies. For Liverpool, this is a stiff test coming off an international break. Let's not forget how flat Liverpool looked after the last international break. This is probably one of the last games we would want to see after another one. That said, Liverpool can only control the things that they can control and must come out and get the three points. Unfortunately, Everton have brought in the man-child Lukaku who loved playing against Liverpool last season.

The good news that is sure to be ruffling Roberto Martinez's overactive eyebrows, Everton aren't exactly banging in the goals this season. They have only scored 14 while allowing 10 total. They are a fairly healthy side on the whole though. With Leighton Baines' ability to get up the flank, he could prove a real handful against a 3-5-2.

The really bad news, Enrique won't be fit after picking up an knee injury. It seems unclear thus far if he has re-aggravated the previous injury or if this is new, but it appears to require surgery. If this is the case, it might not be the worst idea in the world to play Agger out at LB for this match.

I don't know why I'm even trying to analyze this. It's a Derby. It'll be bloody, there will be yellow and red flying around. It can't be analyzed, only enjoyed and the only people who could probably enjoy it are neutrals and individuals into bondage.

Our pre-match thoughts:

-Liverpool must win the games they should win to have a hope at a top four finish. With United now somehow nipping at our heels this game becomes more important. (Adam)

-It will be interesting to see how BR sets up to deal with Lukaku. His physical poise will give the back four or three a lot to deal with.(Adam)

-Like it wasn't important already, we're only 3 points ahead of the bitters in the table. We just simply need to win.

-Lukaku isn't the only one we need to stop. Baines is as good as a winger, Jagielka is good in the air and Jelavic, while at the moment hot and cold, can always produce something with the right service, not to mention Kevin Mirallas, (JAceKopite)

-The fact that they haven't got their shooting boots on means little to nothing, as one of our losses came from a 1-0er to a team that wasn't scoring much themselves at the time, in Southampton. This game needs to be one of the old-fashioned derbies. No holes barred, no space given, everything left out on the pitch. That's the only way you win a game like this. (JAceKopite)

-Unsurprisingly, my main concern is at left back with the news that Jose Enrique will have an extended spell out with knee surgery.  If Aly Cissokho starts, can he handle Kevin Mirallas? (Matt)

-My favorite Merseyside derby game is betting on the first red card.  If it's the good guys, I'm guessing Hendo.  Bad guys, let's go...Seamus Coleman? (Matt)

-Finally, I've been worried about Liverpool's fitness following the international break all week long. Sturridge is a doubt, Suarez has a frequent flyer gold card membership, and Stevie is always two steps slower after hanging out with Woy...

But, this is a derby and I don't think any of it matters to be honest.  These games rarely make sense, form usually matters very little, and keeping your head on straight for 90 minutes is more important than fresh legs.  (Matt)