Hutch Makes Blues Favourites
Ex-Blue says Everton are favourites to win on Sunday.
Don Hutchison believes not even injury doubts or suspensions can prevent Everton going into Sunday's 219th Merseyside derby as favourites.
Hutchison, one of an elite band of just five players to have represented both Merseyside clubs in the Premier League era, refuses to sit on the fence when it comes to his expectations for Sunday.
He has been hugely impressed by the form of David Moyes' side in the opening nine games of the campaign.
Everton are preparing for the game knowing that Steven Pienaar is suspended and with injury doubts over Marouane Fellaini, Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert.
But the former Scotland international remains confident it will be a Blue victory.
He told evertonfc.com: "I think you have to say you'd give Everton the edge.
"I think they have been performing a lot better than Liverpool this season. They've been absolutely brilliant. All over the pitch you could go from one to 11 and say they have been very, very strong.
"Obviously losing Steven Pienaar might be a bit of a blow because down the left hand side Everton have been fantastic with Pienaar and Baines.
"We've got to get Marouane Fellaini back fit as well. If those two boys are definitely out then it brings the game a little bit closer, as if Everton were at full strength I think we would be favourites for the game."
A native of the north-east, Hutchison has an appreciation of the Merseyside derby and believes it is unique amongst the country's big city derbies.
He adds: "I think it is [good natured]. I worked on the Sunderland v Newcastle game at the weekend and I said - in the nicest possible way - that there is so much hatred between the fans being one-club cities.
"I think the difference is, on Merseyside, you could have a family of four or five and two or three might be Reds and two or three might be Blues. So that's why it's such a fun derby and I think the fans love it.
"Not so much these days but years ago, you used to see in the Anfield end or in the Kop end or within Goodison you would see bits of red and blue dotted around. It's one of the best derbies to play in."
Many of us will remember one particular derby when the name Don Hutchison is brought up. On 21 April 2000, it was goalless going into the last 30 seconds of the two minutes of added time at Goodison Park. Hutchison was trotting back towards the halfway line when Sander Westerveld's goal-kick struck his back and deflected into the net, with pandemonium breaking out in the stands.
Referee Graham Poll however, thought otherwise, disallowing the goal because he had apparently blown for full time.
Whilst that memory may still rankle amongst Blues fans, Hutchison has since let it go. "I think he bottled it in that game," he recalls. "I've seen Graham do interviews in the last six months were he has admitted that he bottled it and it did cost us a goal in the end.
"But life's too short not to forgive him!"