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Radio City's Alan Irwin, 4th October 2011 - 10:13
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It’s been a long time since I blogged, but I’m back to give you my thoughts on a regular basis again this season and no more appropriate time to kick things off than a Merseyside derby.
As a commentator it’s not something I particularly look forward to, primarily because for the sake of good balance for our listeners on Radio City I must share the commentary duties with our Liverpool man Steve Hothersall. Therefore it’s half of each half for each us! Invariably he’ll be commentating on Everton goals and me on Liverpool! It never seems to work out the way it should but I’m not sure what the solution is? Additionally, you never seem to really get into the game properly whilst only commentating on half of it. One thing’s for sure we’ll be as passionate as ever, as will be the case throughout the season.
Anyway, onto the game itself. I’m not a believer that form actually goes out of the window in derby games. I think if you look at the facts and stats over recent seasons the game usual goes to form.
It’s early days this season of course but both sides form is almost identical......in fact if we win we’ll be above them on goal difference, with a game in hand of course.
We’ve certainly got players with derby experience now and that helps, contrary to Liverpool’s possible derby debutants (Enrique, Henderson, Adam, Downing, Carroll, Suarez, Coates). If you look at last season’s starting XI in the Goodison derby we’re now minus Arteta and Yakubu. Liverpool are minus five players who started that game and their three substitutes who came on.
I’m not sure though what that tells you! Have Liverpool substantially strengthened their squad? Is ours weaker? There are arguments both ways but the league table would currently suggest that despite Liverpool’s massive spending things are still pretty equal on Merseyside, although as I said it’s early days and I’m very much aware that this is a really big month for us in terms of matches against quality opposition.
Will the clubs be equal after 90 minutes on Saturday? Well I feel we’ve got enough about us to win, provided we’re positive from the outset. I’d obviously love to see Tim Cahill fit enough to play and I’m fairly confident at this stage that he will. He’s Liverpool’s derby nemesis and they won’t want him in our starting team. Liverpool’s defence has looked a little suspect to me at times this season (only one clean sheet at Arsenal) and I’d like to see Fellaini play further up field to really put himself about and cause the type of unrest and uncertainty in their defence that Cahill also does.
With that in mind, if Fellaini’s playing ahead of the midfield four we need to think about what’s behind him, and for me we’d then have to have Phil Neville shoring things up in front of the back four. Clean sheets have not exactly been our forte this season either (just the one at Blackburn – somehow! ). Which leads me to believe there may be quite a few goals at Goodison on Saturday! I’ve been wrong before though on numerous occasions! An early goal would really set things up for a great derby in my view and hopefully one that I can enjoy.
One thing’s for sure on Saturday afternoon at Goodison and that is if a substitute is asked to join the fray with half an hour or so remaining they’ll be chomping at the bit to get out onto that field! If they’re not they shouldn’t be anywhere near that bench and there’ll be just short of 40,000 fans letting him know exactly how they feel!
Enjoy it if you can, I’m certainly going to try too!
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