The Toffees or The Reds? Which is the better team on Merseyside?
Merseyside. A regular metropolitan county in North West England. A hefty population of 1,381,200.
This is probably not something that is of much importance to you right now.
Liverpool and Everton. The two footballing clubs that rule the Merseyside. The longest currently running top-flight derby in England, having played at the level every season since 1962-63, has produced one of the most explosive games in terms of on-field action and off-field action ever since its inception. The derby has had the most red cards than any other derby in English professional football.
So automatically, with such high stakes, the question arises, who is the lion of Merseyside? The better team?
Liverpool, initially named as Everton Athletic, was formed following a dispute between the Everton committee and John Houlding, the club’s president and owner of the land at Anfield. Consequently, the new and younger club would be termed as inferior to its parent. But things were not the way many predicted as Liverpool flew out of its parent club’s shadow to go on to win 18 league titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups and 5 European championships compared to their rival’s 9 league titles, 5 FA cups, 2 League Cups and 1 European championship.
The above stat easily puts Liverpool in the driving seat of the argument. But times have changed.
Liverpool and Everton are not the clubs they used to be. Liverpool’s graph has clearly taken a deep plunge, whereas Everton’s has rocketed straight upwards.
The Toffees have proved themselves as a threat, not only to Liverpool, but even to the title contenders of every season. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs – all struggle while playing at the Goodison Park. The stadium is nothing less than a fortress in current times.
Whereas the Reds, although not too bad themselves, are definitely not the killers they were in the mid 90′s. Anfield, still very much a fortress, hasn’t been the hardest place for its visitors, but definitely gives the visitors a tough time to get their points.
The Reds have drastically dropped down the pecking order and have come to be known as a ‘Team fighting for European contention’ rather than a ‘Team fighting for the title’. Whereas Everton, once a mid-table team, are now flying high, currently sitting pretty at 4th in the current season, whereas Liverpool are down in the 10th position, 8 points behind the Toffees.
The Reds have struggled to put on a decent show every season, even with a fantastic squad. Whereas Everton, having a good squad themselves, make ample use of the talent and get the job done on numerous occasions.
In terms of the derby, Liverpool easily have the upper hand, with 88 wins compared to Everton’s 66 out of a total 219 meetings. Everton’s last win came in a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park on October 17, 2010. Also, their last victory at Anfield came 13 years back on 27th September 1999. The last Merseyside derby ended in a controversial 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.
However, the league table has shown different results. Ever since the 2009-2010 season, Everton have finished just a spot below their rivals, and eventually outsmarting them in the 2011-2012 season, finishing 8 points above their rivals.
Everton have improved the quality of football they play every year, whereas Liverpool haven’t shown any significant rise. However, they did win the League Cup in 2011-2012, beating Cardiff City in the final and ending a 4-year cup drought.
In terms of players and squad strength, Everton have a much stronger squad, boasting the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Nikica Jelavic, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar, Gary Naismith, Leighton Baines, Leon Osman and Phil Neville. Liverpool, definitely not a weak squad, with Luis Suarez, the ever influential Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Martin Skrtel, Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Lucas Leiva.
And if we were to make an all star Merseyside XI, it would include Tim Howard; Leighton Baines, Martin Skrtel, Danie Agger, Seamus Coleman; Steven Gerrard(C), Joe Allen, Leon Osman ,Marouane Fellaini; Nikica Jelavic, Luis Suarez.
Now down to the main question, which is the better Merseyside?
One of the closest competitions, but the answer is Liverpool F.C. Even after finishing below the Toffees last year, the Reds still managed more silverware and with history on their side, are the better team. Results, most of the time in the derby also, fall in their favour. What gives Everton a boost is their ‘Never say die’ attitude that has given the opposition nightmares in many games; their latest victim being Andre Villas Boas’ Spurs, who lost the game in a staggering 3 minute comeback onslaught from the Toffees.
Liverpool need to be on their toes, and improve drastically before the throne and the crown of Merseyside is snatched from them by their cross city rivals, who are not just knocking, but banging on their doors.