London — For the blue half of Merseyside, the days when they enjoyed bragging rights in the derby are a distant memory, but Everton fans will view Saturday’s clash with Liverpool at Anfield as a chance to set the record straight.
Likewise, in Sunday’s London derby West Ham United will be relishing the visit of Tottenham Hotspur when victory would enhance their unlikely bid to be top dogs in the city.
Everton have failed to beat Liverpool in their last 23 attempts in all competitions, a run dating back to 2010, and they have not managed a win at Anfield since 1999 when Kevin Campbell scored the winner.
The psychological damage of that barren record is not easy to overcome and yet with Liverpool’s league form having fallen off a cliff, Everton will take heart. Victory would see them move level on points with Juergen Klopp’s sixth-placed side with a game in hand, so the incentive is huge.
Liverpool have lost three league games in succession for the first time since 2014 and also their last three at Anfield, though they did enjoy a return to form on Wednesday with a 2-0 win away against RB Leipzig as the Champions League resumed.
That said, Everton’s league form has also faltered with only one win in their last six. Form is often secondary in derbies and with this season’s shift towards more away wins than home wins, Everton might not have a better opportunity to get one over Liverpool.
Even in a season full of surprises, West Ham’s rise has been one of the most unexpected storylines. Manager David Moyes just about kept them up last season, but rather than their customary flirtation with relegation, the Hammers are looking good bets for securing European football.
Monday’s 3-0 stroll against Sheffield United lifted them briefly into the top four, before they were overtaken a couple of hours later by Chelsea. West Ham finally look more than the sum of their parts and their tally of 42 points is already three more than they managed in the whole of the last campaign.
With striker Michail Antonio proving a handful for any defence, gangly Czech Tomas Soucek proving a masterful signing and Declan Rice maturing into a thoroughbred modern midfielder, West Ham are playing with confidence and flair, winning six of their last eight league games.
They are on course for their highest top-flight finish since they finished fifth under Harry Redknapp in 1999 and, perhaps of even more importance for their fans, are on course to finish above Tottenham, for the first time since 2008.
“We’re a team in progress, we’re trying to grow, we’re trying to get good foundations in place so that maybe in the future we can have regular good teams at the top of the league,” Moyes, who is refusing to get carried away, said.
Their form is a stark contrast to Tottenham’s. Jose Mourinho’s side have drifted down to ninth, six points behind West Ham, after four defeats in their last five games.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will aim to continue his unbeaten start as his side go to struggling Southampton on Saturday while on Sunday runaway leaders Manchester City travel to Arsenal looking for an 18th successive victory in all competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not thrown in the towel in the title race but his Manchester United side, who face Newcastle United on Sunday, appear to be in a battle for runners-up spot with Leicester City, who face Aston Villa.
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