Liverpool FC primed to keep Everton in dark in latest Merseyside Derby

Marcus White

The Merseyside Derby is as one-sided as English Premier League rivalries go. 

Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, Liverpool FC have only lost to cross-town rivals Everton nine times in 54 league meetings. The Reds have 23 wins themselves, outscoring the Toffees 72-46 during that time. Everton have not beaten Liverpool since Oct. 17, 2010, and they haven't won in the unfriendly confines of Anfield in the 21st century. 

"I'm from Merseyside," Men In Blazers co-host and lifelong Everton supporter Roger Bennett told NBC Sports Bay Area earlier this season. "The special nature of it is really the darkness. It matters. It almost matters too much. ... So, joy is carefully rationed out in little parcels, and it's really a day of incredible darkness."

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The longtime rivals couldn't be in more disparate positions this campaign.

Liverpool are eight points clear atop the table entering Wednesday, and the reigning UEFA Champions League winners appear primed to win their first-ever Premier League title, if not a domestic treble. Their manager, Jurgen Klopp, already is a cult hero in the Red part of the city. Everton, meanwhile, sit 17th, just two points clear of relegation.

Manager Marco Silva's seat reportedly is red-hot, and Wednesday's match conceivably could be his last in the Everton dugout. 

The Toffees' reality lies in stark contrast to their hopes entering the season. From March 1 onward last season, Everton lost just twice in their final 11 Premier League matches. The club showcased its ambition this summer, highlighting designs for a new waterfront stadium and spending £118.5 million on incoming players. Great expectations quickly gave way to despair, with Everton winning just three of their first 10 matches. 

That darkness Bennett mentioned has loomed all season, with Everton residing firmly in Liverpool's shadow. BBC Sport's Phil Dawkes found that Liverpool's current 26-point lead over Everton is the fifth-biggest between the two sides in a single season -- and there still are 24 matches left. Three of the six-biggest gaps have occurred since the 2017-18 campaign.

Barring a shocking result Wednesday at Anfield, things are likely only going to get darker. The rivals will meet twice over the next month, with Liverpool hosting Everton in the league on Wednesday and then again on Jan. 4 in the FA Cup. A Liverpool win Wednesday would create a 29-point gap -- the fourth-largest between the rivals -- and another win on Jan. 4 would leave the Carabao Cup as Everton's only hope of winning their first trophy since 1995. Assuming they aren't eliminated by Leicester City on Dec. 18 in that competition, that is. 

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Everton, arguably, are due for better results this season. Their expected-goals difference, according to StatsBomb, ranks eighth in the Premier League. The Toffees have allowed four more goals than expected, and some well-timed regression to the mean combined with their rivals' propensity to leave things late against lesser competition seems like a formula for a potentially season-saving draw. 

But given where these clubs stand, it's more likely that Wednesday's Merseyside Derby will once again be defined by darkness for Everton. 

Liverpool FC primed to keep Everton in dark in latest Merseyside Derby originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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