Afternoon all. So what's it going to be? A carthartic blockbuster of epic proportions to end a week of Airplane-esque turbulence, or a squib damper than SpongeBobs SquarePants' square pants? A shackle-shedding derby barnstormer or a fixture wrecked by more tension than parade day at a Royal Marines barracks? (I'll leave that one with you for a while …)
A hyperbolic Alan Hansen described this fixture as Liverpool's biggest game in 30 years (or possibly the biggest Merseyside derby in 30 years – the chianti was kicking in by that stage of Match of the Day*), and while that is a little OTT, it has certainly gained huge symbolic importance given the week that the red half of the city has endured/enjoyed.
And don't ignore Everton's stake in this – what better way to put one over the old enemy than gatecrashing the party and scoffing all the vol-au-vents? Leaving Liverpool in the bottom three would be sweet for the Toffees. Ahem.
*Mine, not his.
The first flip-flop? "I think it's better the supporters' first experience of us as owners is at home," said John W Henry earlier this week. And here he is arriving at Goodison today. At least he'll be in good company – James Richardson, Barry Glendenning and Gregg Roughley are there to record a special Football Weekly, available first thing tomorrow.
The teams are in:
Everton: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Coleman, Heitinga, Arteta, Osman, Cahill, Yakubu. Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Beckford, Gueye, Mustafi, Baxter.Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Konchesky, Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles, Cole, Maxi Rodriguez, Torres. Subs: Jones, Aurelio, Jovanovic, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, Kelly.Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
So good news for Everton – Phil Jagielka is fit. Poulsen and Johnson both missing for the visitors.
An appeal from Gary Naylor: "Nobby Stiles is auctioning memorabilia on October 27, including his World Cup Winners medal. I have set up a Facebook group that respects Mr Stiles' right to sell it, but calls on the PFA to buy the medal and return it to Nobby for him to keep in his possession for the rest of his life, then placing a real icon of English football on display to the public. I would like as many members as possible before I approach the PFA and players to lobby them on Tuesday. I know MBMers will be interested and many will want to support this objective - so please click to join."
Does that back four make Liverpool fans nervous? I think it would me.
Just been directed towards this. Yes that priest is Howard Kendall.
It's out next month so if you're struggling to think of a decent Christmas present for one of your loved ones … I don't know, get them a tie or a nice hat.
Here's David Moyes in the Goodison tunnel: "Takeover story has taken the pressure of Liverpool players a little bit."
And Roy Hodgson likewise: "It won't affect the way we play. But there's no doubt the change of ownership … can only be absolutely positive."
I'd be interested to here from any Liverpool or Everton fans about this (or any other fans, to be fair). Does anyone else dread derby days? I really don't look forward to Sheffield derbies – the fear of losing always wins out. Is it just me?
Click-clack, click-clack … the teams emerge from the tunnel to a deafening roar.
Peep! And we are off! Liverpool, kicking from right to left, get things underway. "I really do dread Old Firm derby days, especially because it's so important in the title race in Scotland," writes Patrick Body. "Winning or losing really makes a difference. Also, I don't like Sheffield derby days either because of the bloody traffic around Bramall Lane."
15 sec: Kyrgiakos takes a little whack from Yakubu, but he's going to be just fine.
2 min: Liverpool take charge of the early possession, Everton pressing hard. Osman thunders into a challenge with Carragher, who gives Fernando Torres a piece of his mind.
3 min: Email of the day so far: "You do know that SpongeBob Squarepants's pants are not square but rectangular, right?" writes Willem van Schaik. "So the show should have been called SpongeBob Rectangularpants but the mainstream media obviously are trying to keep this under wraps." Everton win a corner after a clever free-kick …
4 min: … Arteta hits Gerrard at the near post, but returns the ball back into the box. Reina punches fairly ineffectually, but Coleman can't get a shot away.
5 min: "I hate derby days - always have, always will," writes Sean Moore. "If someone offered me a drab 0-0, I'd take it every time. The fear of defeat, humiliation, serious injuries, suspensions and so on, is more than I can bear." Arteta gets a talking to from Howard Webb after a trip on Lucas.
7 min: John W Henry, looking bookish, seems to be jiggling with excitement in the directors box. The home side are going at this with some purpose. Their tempo is higher than thrash metal at the moment.
9min: Gordon bennett … "The pants were neither square nor rectangular as they were three-dimensional," notes Damian Wims. "SpongeBob TetrahedronPants." Heitinga, the man sent off by Webb in the World Cup final, clatters into Lucas. How long before the referee starts flashing his yellow, Soccer City-style?
10 min: Skrtel brings down a stomping Yakubu on the edge of the box. Very dangerous free-kick this …
11 min: … Arteta … spanked into the wall. But as the play breaks, Skrtel makes a right mess of a clearance. Jagielka should really do better than blaze over the bar from 12 yards.
13 min: The visitors are a little rattled by Everton's intensity here. Danny Murphy must be beside himself.
14 min: Lovely play down the left from Everton, Yakubu squares, and Distin's effort is deflected over by Skrtel. The corner is scrambled clear.
15 min: Another rampaging run from Yakubu is ended by Konchesky's block on the edge of the box. No free-kick says Webb. But this certainly is – Gerrard chopping down Arteta in midfield. Again Webb keeps his cards tucked away, but this is really bubbling.
17 min: Robert Duvall + Harry Potter's dad = John W Henry?
18 min: Webb's patience snaps like a dry twig as Maxi catches Baines late. The Argentinean becomes the first player booked.
20 min: Goodison takes a collective deep breath as the pace drops just a touch.
21 min: Liverpool get on the ball for the first time since the opening minutes, but a couple of crosses are confidently dealt with by Distin.
23 min: First save of the game, and it's Tim Howard who's made it. Cole whips in, Torres flicks on, the American tips over. Lucas then drives wildly into the terraces.
24 min: Liverpool break as Neville's poor cross is cut out. Torres, though, is touch isolated with only Konchesky hurtling forward in support. Any chance is quickly snuffed out.
25 min: Can't really argue with this: "You have to hand it to Hodgson," writes my colleague Evan Fanning on Twitter. "He's managed to send out a team as slow and disinterested in the derby as they have been in every other game."
27 min: The decibel level ratchets up as the home fans scream for a foul just outside the Liverpool area, and the visitors stream away on the break.
28 min: Reina's turn to get his knees dirty as Yakubu swipes a shot at goal. And there's a chunk of argy and even a soupçon or bargy after wards. Cahill has indeed gone into the referee's book, possibly for an earlier late challenge on Gerrard.
29 min: Liverpool corner, as Torres puts the pressure on Baines …
30 min: … scrambled away as Meireles clumps a shot at goal from the edge of the box. The Portuguese then goes into the book after illegally ending Yakubu's attempted break. ""SpongeBob wears rectangular prism pants.," writes Professor Richard Nichols. "The tetrahedral ones would cramp his style or, to be more technical, his spermatophytes."
31 min: Yakubu finds himself the corned beef in a Skrtel and Kyrgiakos bread sandwich. He took a bit of a whack but he's going to be fine.
33 min: With Everton backing off Lucas horribly overhits a cross.
GOAL!!!! Everton 1-0 Liverpool (Cahill 34) First blood to Everton! Seamus Coleman does superbly down the right, going past three challenges before pulling back for the late-arriving Cahill to hammer into the roof past Reina.
35 min: Hard to tell from the replays who should've been tracking the Australian, but he found himself in more space than the SS Enterprise. Osman this time romps down the right and wins a corner …
36 min: … headed away by Gerrard for another …
37 min: … again cleared by the Liverpool captain. "Our boy Coleman is quite a player, is he not?" writes a rather excited Gary Naylor. "Had Lionel Messi done that, we wouldn't hear the end of it." Steady on, Gary.
38 min: Yet another Everton corner is smuggled away by Liverpool. Hodgson's side could do with the half-time whistle.
40 min: Liverpool get on the front foot again (perhaps their fourth attack on the half?), but Torres and Meireles get themselves in a tangle as the ball drops invitingly in the area. Not quite Sheridan and Warhurst at Bramall Lane circa 1991, but a bit of a mess all the same. Apologies for that rather obscure and parochial reference, but I'm happy that at least some readers will get it.
42 min: Liverpool ease forward once more, but Everton's defending in their own half has been just as frantically committed as their pressing in the Liverpool half. No way through for the Reds.
43 min: Gerrard finds Torres down the right, but Distin matches the Spanish striker stride for stride.
45 min: Osman stings Reina's hands with a fizzing drive from 25 yards, but Liverpool are enjoying arguably their best spell of the game now. Two minutes added time.
45+2 min: Heitinga hammers away as Torres nods down Konchesky's cross. A few of the home fans start whistling for the break.
Peep! Peep! Howard Webb obliges. John W Henry looks a little ticked off, and shoves his hands in his pockets (something, I suppose, Liverpool fans hope he'll be doing a fair bit over the coming months. Although not literally, of course).
Half-time email dept.
"Were I a Liverpool supporter, I imagine 'Distin matches (Torres) stride for stride' would be the saddest words I'd ever read," writes Ryan Jones.
"In the meantime Alberto Aquilini has scored a cracker for Juventus," writes Edward Vernon. "I can't believe Liverpool let him go out on loan when they're crying out for his dynamism."
Half-time snack dept. Tea and a little white chocolate. It is Sunday, after all.
Peep! The intro music kicks in on Half II. I was at Wolves v West Ham yesterday, an archetypal game of two halves – Wolves great in the first half, garbage in the second. West Ham garbage in the first half … you get the idea. So hope for Liverpool, though they'll obviously have to improve. And considerably. "When Liverpool played their last dire European home match Spearing was running around shouting at the senior players to get their arses in gear," writes Ian Copestake. "Would be grand to see him on second half."
46 min: Maxi tests Howard with an early effort after some defensive hesitancy.
47 min: In bad news for my RSI Bilyaletdinov has replaced the injured Osman at half-time. "If my maths are right, which they may well not be, I think Liverpool are only one Everton goal away from going 19th," writes Robin Hazlehurst. "What a way to welcome the new owners."
48 min: Torres goes bundling into Baines to concede a free-kick, his bad touch letting him down. Bilyaletidinov wins a corner …
GOAL!!! Everton 2-0 Liverpool (Arteta 50) … a stonking strike from the Spaniard. Baines's corner is nodded away by Kyrgiakos but only as far as Arteta on the edge of the box. He's allowed just enough time to spank a shot that goes swerving past the helpless Pepe Reina. A Thor-like hammerblow for Liverpool.
51 min: Carragher goes flying into Cahill, Arteta offers the Liverpool man some handbags, then the peacemakers step in. Players frustrated, 2-0 down, what will Hodgson do?
52 min: At the moment, he's rubbing his upper lip in deep thought. "There is much frustration amongst fans of the Irish national side that exciting young players such as Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy aren't, and most likely wont be, considered by Trapattoni for the qualification campaign," writes Kevin O'Connor. "What he sees in Paul Green I'll never know. I don't want to know. He's pants. (Regular pants not TetrahedronPants)."
53 min: Coleman just fails to find Yakubu as Everton swarm forward once more. He might have done better there.
55 min: At the other end, Liverpool look to respond, but a couple of crosses into the box are far too aimless. "As a big believer in MBM omens, I'd like to thank Robin Hazlehurst for his email in the 47th minute, and encourage him to write again around the 65th wondering aloud when was the last time Liverpool shipped three in a derby," writes Ryan Jones.
56 min: Definitely heard a few chants of "Going down, going down" from the Goodison faithful there. That sort of thing really irritates Fate.
57 min: I should point out that I was refering to Going Down the football chant, rather than the Stone Roses track. Mersey Paradise might be a better number for Everton fans right now anyway.
58 min: Gerrard finds Konchesky, who looks for Cole, but the former Chelsea man is rivalling Torres for the title of Liverpool's Most Ineffective Performer. Carragher wins a corner, though …
59 min: … and Gerrard hits the first man. But he's got another chance ...
60 min: … this time it's at least into the mixer, but Everton clear. "If anyone would like to know the omen that led to the first goal," writes Callum Hamilton, "I can reveal it was a Facebook message from a Liverpool fan this morning which read: 'The Greek starts so your bet about Tim Cahill opening the scoring is definitely off.'"
62 min: Liverpool have been camped in the Everton half for a while now without really looking like breaking through. Gerrard floats one in towards Torres … and I'm not going to say that he dived but he certainly flopped down without any help. Jagielka, the defender in attendance, looks a little hurt.
63 min: "We keep seeing the new owners leaning over and talking to Martin Broughton," writes Nick McDougall. "At this point is there any chance they aren't asking for Peter Lim's phone number?" Wonder if they kept their receipt?
64 min: Cole smacks a shot in. Blocked. Meireles can't quite get on the end of Maxi's through-ball. The home fans roar in unison, as if their voices could drag the players out of their final third. This could be the pattern for the final 25 minutes though.
66 min: Torres volleys at goal – it's miles over. His body language suggests he didn't have any belief he'd get that on target. It's quite a sad sight.
67 min: "Stunned by how awful we've been so far," writes Ben List. "Coleman ripped us apart on the right for the goal, and we've looked genuinely scared going forward, as if they've all realised that we'll be passing it about a bit then Lucas will give away possession and Everton will break, and create a chance." Cole has a decent effort from the edge of the D, curling just away from Howard's upright.
68 min: Replays show Yakubu standing in an offside position for the goal. A bit Gallas-like, for those who saw Tottenham's goal at Craven Cottage. Meireles has Howard scrambling with another shot from long range.
70 min: Torres's shot blocked by Distin – almost 10 minutes of pressure survived by Everton. Twenty more to go. Ngog replaces the ineffectual Lucas and Hibbert replaces Heitinga for the hosts.
71 min: It's all too much for Zeno Sidon: "Aaaarghhhh! What is Joe Cole? What is his purpose? Where is he even playing? Why does everyone keep talking about the average squad inherited when all of Roy's signings are borderline disasters with Cole and Poulson leading the way in bumbling ineffectiveness? Was I the only one who watched Poulson give the ball away at 20 minute intervals in front of the back four at the World Cup assisting the pourous Danish defence? And Roy, what have you done to Fernando?"
73 min: Beckford replaces Arteta – probably a smart move with Everton now playing very much on the break.
75 min: This is a lull. But it won't hurt you.
76 min: Beckford clatters Skrtel from behind and immediately finds his name jotted down in Howard Webb's book.
77 min: Skrtel's shocking pass hand possession to Everton. Baines wins a corner …
78 min: … and Jagielka volleys wild and wide.
79 min: Screams for a penalty as Beckford goes down under challenge from Srktel – having already been booked, that looked a little risky to me from the former Leeds player. Not a great deal of contact.
80 min: Babel replaces Cole, but so far you'd have to say Moyes's substitutions have had the greater significance. Beckford, for good or ill, getting plenty involved and a little of the sting drawn out of the Liverpool blanket attack.
82 min: Meireles's possibily goal-bound shot is blocked by Distin. Then a sumptuous ball from Gerrard, with Torres closing in, beats everyone but Howard and the tips of his fingertips.
83 min: Gerrard whips in a free-kick from the right … flicked wide by Ngog when he really might have done better. Controversial email dept. "Do you think the English media might finally see that spending £8.5m to sack Benitez and bring in Hodgson wasn't such a good plan after all?" writes Conor. "Rafa had his faults but he's several leagues ahead of Hodgson in managerial talent."
84 min: Hodgson throws on Jovanovic for Maxi – the last roll of the dice, aiming for Mayfair but likely to find Community Chest and one of those irritating £10 fines. An increasingly pivotal Gerrard spanks a shot yards wide.
86 min: Another excellent ball from Gerrard this time finds Torres, who checks inside Hibbert, inside Jagielka, and finds his low shot well blocked by Howard, who has dealt very well with everything thrown at him today (though that's not been a huge amount).
88 min: Skrtel comes through Beckford on halfway, just clipping the striker. "You're getting sacked in the morning," chant the Everton fans at the visiting dugout.
89 min: Time almost up for Liverpool – four added minutes to be played.
90+1 min: On the break Beckford rakes a shot over the bar from distance, when he could have taken the thing on.
90+2 min: Babel tries a long-ranger – Howard punches clear. Distin slides in to deny Ngog. Konchesky horrible slices a cross. Tick, tick, tick …
90+3 min: Torres volleys first-time from a corner, but only succeeds in finding one of several Everton legs in the six-yard box. "As a rebuttal to Conor's point about Roy's signings," writes Tim Travers. "Yes they haven't all worked but, considering Poulsen isn't playing today, Cole and Meireles aside, the rest of Liverpool's crap squad is Rafa's fine work. Give the bloke more than eight games to decide whether or not it was a good idea."
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeep! Everton waste another chance on the break, but it doesn't matter. Webb calls an end to proceedings. Is that a new dawn? Or is someone's house on fire?
Liverpool in 19th, eh? Who'd've thunk it? Right, that's it from me. Thanks, as ever, for all those emails. Apologies for those I couldn't use. Be sure head over to Jacob Steinberg and Blackpool v Manchester City for the day's second game. But from me – cheerio!
This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.