Let's kick off with the team news:
Liverpool: Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Meireles, Spearing, Lucas, Maxi Rodriguez; Kuyt, Torres.
Subs: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Cole, Pacheco, Kyrgiakos, Babel, Shelvey.
Everton: Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Fellaini, Arteta, Osman; Beckford, Anichebe.
Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Vaughan, Gueye, Rodwell, Baxter.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Afternoon all: I was struck by this comment from Leighton Baines during his interview with Paul Wilson: "I was only thinking the other day about how much of a buzz there must be around Manchester, with both clubs at the top of the league. It would be great to go into a derby match in those positions, both competing for honours, like it used to be here sometimes."
It got me thinking about Kenny Dalglish's first Anfield derby as Liverpool's manager back in February 1986 when both clubs were in those positions, and Everton's 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Kevin Ratcliffe and Gary Lineker and a Bruce Grobbelaar assist for one of them, put Everton three points clear at the top. Liverpool, of course, came back to win the Double that year.
Dalglish's last Anfield league derby fitted more his general record at home in the league against Everton, his fourth victory in six with only the defeat mentioned above. Liverpool won 3-1 in February 1991. The teams that day make for instructive reading and the fact that the much-maligned David Speedie scored twice had long since left my memory.
Liverpool 1991: Grobbelaar; Nicol, Hysen, Ablett, Burrows; Venison, Molby, Whelan, Staunton; Speedie, Barnes.
Everton 1991: Southall, McDonald, Watson, Ratcliffe, Ebbrell; Nevin, Milligan, McCall, Sheedy, Beagrie; Sharp.
On paper Everton looked to have marginally the stronger side, Liverpool picking four full-backs. It also reminded me that I've never understood why Everton sold Stuart McCall to Rangers. He was no Peter Reid but he was a very effective player and could have given eight years more service.
Here's a bit from Steve Bierley's match report to give you a flavour of that day:
There is a law, let us call it Heseltine's Law, that every man has a scheme that will not work. When Everton equalised just before half-time, courtesy of Nevin's possibly hand-made goal, there seemed a high probability the Liverpool manager's leanings towards the defensive might, like a child's roly-poly bouncer, lurch back and biff him in the face.
As it was, the nearest Dalglish came to being biffed was in the 82nd minute when he caught a loose ball near the dug-out and held it while Beardsley hurriedly struggled to rip off his tracksuit and replace Speedie. Everton's McDonald ran up, snatched the ball away and gave Dalglish a not altogether friendly little shove in the process. There are those, not all of them Evertonians, who will savour this moment for a lifetime.
When Whelan, his shin cracked, winced off minutes after half-time, the likelihood of Everton thoroughly upsetting Anfield grew appreciably. At this point Speedie entered like a Siberian storm and Everton, like British Rail, were in a mess. Liverpool went back to the top of the First Division and Dalglish was absolved.
As for today, I genuinely don't know what to think. Everton played really well against Spurs while Liverpool showed much more heart and confidence at Old Trafford and the first minutes at Bloomfield Road than at any time since they beat Chelsea.
Team musings: Gary Naylor has a sharp view on David Moyes's selection: "Heitinga and Fellaini are in the Everton team - Moyes must have the referee's yellow and red cards in his office safe." Heitinga played so well last season but his World Cup hangover has gone on and on. I did the MBM for Everton's victory over Manchester City at Eastlands and saw Anichebe's performance then as running the channels hard to make space for Tim Cahill. It will be interesting to see if he does more with the ball today, how he combines with Beckford and whether they can occupy players to let Baines continue his rich vein of form as an attacking weapon. The last Liverpool match I did was the victory over Villa and was astounded how many long balls Martin Skrtel hit. Villa were feeble that night and it was an effective tactic, even if he did seem to do it far too often, playing the percentages that one or two would come off and that would justify wasting possession at other times. Looking at the XIs, both could play 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2. With utility midfielders aplenty on both sides I can't quite call what they'll do.
The preparation: Interesting, too, that Dalglish had Ronnie "Bugsy" Moran at Melwood on Friday. What the former long-serving coach told Four-Four-Two back in 1996 still holds I think:
"You will never have a team of 11 players who all play well all the time. It's more a case of maybe eight or nine playing well, while two or three have an off day. Those who don't have a good day will work hard and be helped by those other eight or nine players, because they know in the next game it might be them who don't play well and need the help. This was a philosophy preached by Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish."
When did they last have eight or nine of them all playing well in a single match? As for Everton, David Moyes in his brief pre-match interview seemed very confident. Incidentally if any of you are watching this in 3D, let us know if it's worthwhile.
1 min: Rob Hawthorn got things off in a zeitgeisty way: "He's delivered the King's speech and now it's time for the stutters to end." Just thought I'd pass that on. Liverpool kick off, attacking the Kop. Agger hits it left out to Mereiles, on to Torres who hits it first time, scuffs a volley, but Howard saves easily.
2 min: So Kuyt's playing on the right and Mereiles is pushing from midfield. Coleman picks up a knock on and slightly slices his shot, with his laces, wide of the post.
3 min: The old Dalglish, clap, chant gets an airing. Spearing turns blind and passes, straight to Beckford, who tries to chip Reina from 45 yards and spoons it over.
5 min: "Very excited about the game," writes Alistair Elder. "Famous LFC comedy with pictures if the 'Kenny is cooler than the Fonz'. LFC fans live in the past – discuss." Correctamundo or not as the case may be. Johnson tackles Beckford with a lunge and clips him, Beckford did will to turn and Everton get the free-kick, headed out by Kelly.
7 min: Mereiles tries a clever pass from centre to inside right but just overhits it and Kuyt can't quite get there. Everton clear and Fellaini shovels it forward.
9 min: "Presumably several thousand people at Anfield are watching in 3D. Although many of them may have qualms about whether it is worth it," says Robin Hazlehurst. Well, indeed. Coleman takes Johnson to the goalline and gets his cross in, not very powerfully, Anichebe controls but Agger stands tall and toes it back to Coleman and Johnson and the right-back moonlighting on the left saves the corner by hooking it out for a throw.
11 min: Kelly has a barnstorming run down the right, skinning Osman and then Baines and he crosses well. Headed out for a corner. Next passage of play when the corner breaks down sees Torres shooting from very wide on the right. He gets under it and it's out for a goalkick.
13 min: Sunday, Monday, Happy Days. Here's Gary Naylor: "Kenny cooler than The Fonz? So Lucas and Maxi are more hapless than Ralph Malph and Potsie?" "Sit on it" was the Fonz's strongest insult, I believe. Not heard before or since. Everton corner just over Heitinga's head, having made a bending run to the near post. Osman's shot from the clearance flies over.
15 min: Anichebe is starting from deep positions and he collects the ball and starts to run at Liverpool's back four. Spearing bundles him off the ball, which looked like a foul but there's been no replay and none was given. Yeah, the replay now shows Spearing shoved him in the back. Then Liverpool do get a freekick when Torres hits the turf on the left-wing.
17 min: Oh! Torres, having bested Distin with his pace, strength and control, cuts on to his left and curls a shot on to the far post. The rebound falls to Kuyt, coming a bit too quick for him, and he larrups it, deflected over. Corner.
19 min: Agger upends Osman when the corner breaks down, as so often do these days. "Moyes should consider going into acting. He chews up the scenery when he's on screen. He's already eaten my TV, sofa and dog so far. More Moyes on TV screens please," Says Ulto Ryan of the voracious Everton manager. A bloke once ate a plane, you know Ulto. Are you saying that Moyes is like him?
21 min: Pertinent point from Charles Harris: "Who's that striker that just hit the post? I don't think I've seen him before? Certainly not this year." Everton have a free kick just outside the centre circle and it's chipped up to Fellaini. Skrtel doesn't get there, lax marking, and Fellaini heads across goal. Liverpool nod it out for a corner.
22 min: Maxi and Kuyt switch wings and when Torres feeds Maxi on the right, the Argentinain hits a crossfield pass to Kuyt who cuts in and hits a right-footed shot that catches an Everton player's back and goes out for a corner. Mereiles overhits the corner and Kuyt has to stretch to get it way beyond the far post and bcan't really get enough on it to do anything dangerous. Take better corners, pleaser, everyone. It's not so much a dying art as a dead one.
25 min: Meireles jumps into a challenge with Arteta on halfway and gives away a free kick. Again it's hit to Fellaini on the left of Liverpool's six-yard box and he nods across inches in front of Beckford's outstretched foot.
26 min: Hello Tony Rowly: "Can someone explain the thinking behind putting Glen Johnson at left back? Replacing your left back who's been terrible all season with your right back who's been terrible all season surely can't be a step in the right direction. Why isn't Aurelio given a chance?" It's beyond me, Tony. Kelly's playing well on the right, though. Skrtel less so in marking Fellaini at set-pieces.
GOAL!! Liverpool 1-0 Everton (Meireles) Well, having just published a moan about Glen Johnson which I sort of endorsed, he goes barrelling up the left, hits a fine cross to Kuyt at the far post. Howard saves the header and Kuyt's shot from the rebound. It skittles out to Meireles who smashes it into the net.
31 min: And Maxi wastes another chance as Everton seem to invite Liverpool on to their back four. The ball came out via Torres's shot to Maxi on the left and he blasts it high over the bar.
33 min: Everton need to get their foot on the ball a bit more and just did that until Arteta hits crossfield pass, 40 yards forward that just skips beyond Coleman.
35 min: "I've got a bet with a mate who thinks Beckford's a genius," writes Damian Marlee. "I, however, think that Carlton Cole will outscore him. On today's evidence, who's right?" Too close to call, Damian. I've watched him many times and his control can be less than exemplary but by God he tries. It was a win-win signing for Moyes. If it doesn't work out a Championship side will give him £1.5m, because he'll score in that league. Everton's resources means he has to play, though, and he may still not be ready. It's a huge leap from League One.
37 min: Liverpool have a free kick, conceded by Anichebe, wide on Liverpool's right, 30 yards out and it falls to Torres's feet but he knocks it to Kuyt who scoops it up and Everton force it away and then draw a foul.
39 min: Good ball from Meireles to Johnson who again has a clear run at Neville which rather makes Duncan Smith's point: "It is a fine idea to play a totally right footed player at left back if the opposing right back is stupid enough to repeatedly show him inside onto his good foot!" Unimprovably put, Duncan. Everton back off Torres who seems to have found his form and he sprints with the ball at heitinga from right of centre. When he shoots, though, Heitinga gets his foot in and the ball loops out for a corner.
41 min: Beckford just beat Liverpool's high line, curlinhg his run on the left and he has acres of space, crosses to Fellaini but Liverpool get back well to knock it away. Then Liverpool pile forward with Kelly, to Kuyt. He's playing well the young right-back.
43 min: Liverpool are passing it about well and are running at Everton's defence with a hint of swagger. I think everton nhave to have a rethink over the formation, maybe. Fellaini makes a hospital pass straight to Maxi who shoots and misses.
45 min: Torres is having his best day for yonks. Wide on the right he hiots a delightful cross with the outside of his right boot to the far post that's just beyond Maxi.
Half time: Liverpool palying as well as I've seen them, the midfielders and forwards esepcially, deserve their lead. Everton need to get the ball to Coleman more and maybe relieve Arteta of his defensive duties as when he goes out on the left, Kelly and Maxi or Kuyt are pushing him so far back. Very enjoyable for non Evertonians so far. Back in five minutes with more emails.
Half-time emails: "I was just wondering, what with the retro-theme that Liverpool are on at the moment (i.e. the kit and the manager) does it not strike anyone else strange that they've managed to go back in time and slip Gary McAllister into the team and called him Raul Meireles? Have you ever seen them both at the same place and the same time? No, didn't think so," writes Mark Guthrie. Time for a baldy head song for the Portuguese, then. Fred Lane needs a drum roll after this: "If Kelly keeps on playing well, one of the big clubs will be after him soon." James Brown has the greatest ever Liverpool and Everton teams on Sabotage Times. Our own Jonathan Wilson also picks his greatest Sunderland side. Rolls back the years does the brainy one. Here's Lee James on Glen Johnson: "I suppose the Johnson logic is to get Kelly in the team, thereby having only one rubbish full back. Then Johnson is a good attacking full-back, whereas the other left backs are rubbish at both facets of the job. Either that or the easiest way to get funds for a new left back is to provide a handy comparision for the owner." Prepare for a Twitter rebuttal, Lee.
Half-time encore: Sky are plugging the return of Hawaii Five 0 to continue the retro theme. Brett writes: "Must say a cracking first half. I'm a Red and getting rather giddy after watching Liverpool play exciting, attacking football at pace - forgive me but it feels like decades. Oh yes, it has been decades. Isn't it amazing that the crowd is responding? Not rocket science this, is it boys? This second half now is absolutely critical. Everton will currently be collectively removing a David Moye's size nine from their arses and will come out much improved - will Liverpool show some Benítez-era steel or cave?" I think Everton need to bring Bilyaletdinov on or Rodwell, and take Anichebe or Beckford off and get Coleman to put Johnson on the back foot.
Substitution: Liverpool take Agger off and replace him with Kyrgiakos, Hodgson's Plan B centre-forward.
GOAL!! Liverpool 1-1 Everton (Distin) Everton kick off and almost immediately get a corner. It's hit to Distin at the far post, Skrtel doesn't get close enough and he heads it goalwards. Johnson on the line or milimetres behind hit heads it up on to the bar and it bounces down over the line.
48 min: They have had a lot of free headers at set pieces Everton and they take advantage of slackness from Skrtel. I'm not sure I've ever been impressed by Skrtel. He seems to lose concentration far too often.
49 min: A lot more composure on the ball on the brief evidence of this second-half so far from Everton and Liverpool are rather retreating, the defenders slow to get tight and the midfielders, Spearing in particular, not anticipating quick enough. Liverpool have a free kick deep and just in their own half.
GOAL!! Liverpool 1-2 Everton (Beckford) Oh dear Liverpool. Long ball to ANichebe on the left, he goes up with Kelly who goes down. The ball flies to Osman who controls superbly, twists and passes to Beckford who clips it into the net with a curling shot from about seven yards out.
54 min: Maybe it's Phil Thompson Liverpool need to teach their defenders how to win the ball in the air as both goals have come from lost aerial challenges. As Gary Naylor says: "Everton may concede again - but we're away from home in an even more highly-charged atmosphere than is usually the case. But there's another headed goal coming you know." Meireles gets up the other end but fires straight at Howard.
56 min: The size nine worked! Baines takes a throw-in back to Distin who clips it forward and Coleman is squeezed out by Johnson.
58 min: Everton fans greeted the second goal with a chorus of "Sacked in the morning". I don't know if Agger going off disrupted Liverpool, not that Kyrgiakos was at fault for either goal. Johsnon attacks up the left and Coleman shadows him for ten yards then slides in to knock it out for a throw.
60 min: Everton keep raiding down the right and Nick McDowell makes a fair point, MBMers idiots etc. : "Couldn't agree more with the swift removal of Anichebe / Beckford. Eh? What's that? Oh." Liverpool corner the second ball comes back across to Maxi, slightly behind him and he turns, little Pea like, but lopps the ball into Howard's hands.
62 min: "Say what you want about Kyrgiakos. No, please do. It might make me feel better," writes Niall Mullen. Torres gets booked for clipping Phil Neville's heel in the Everton box.
64 min: Liverpool lack a we bit of patience when building from the back, the ball goes from Kyrgiakos to Spearing who Gerrards a 40-yard pass to Torres that skips off the turf and out for a goalkick.
66 min: Babel is warming up, presumably for Spearing. Kelly and Kuyt try to raid up the right as they did so productively in the first half but Osman is now covering impressively and they get the ball out. Then Liverpool have a free kick, to the far post, Skrtel misses his kick it nudges to Maxi, who goes down under Howard's challenge. Penalty.
GOAL!! Liverpool 2-2 Everton (Kuyt, pen) Howard dive sto his left. Kuyt slots it into the right-side of the goal. Howard did catch Maxi with his arm and the Argentinian went down. For a minute it looked as if he was going to get booked for diving but the penalty was given.
69 min: Everton come close to another headed goal when Maxi's foul gives away a free kick that's chipped towards the centre of the goal. It's not zonal or man-to-man that's the problem, it's an inability to read the game by the centre-halves.
71 min: Very end to end now, punchj and counter punch as the old saying goes. Kuyt tries a one-two with Torres whose return pushes him too wide but he still wins a corner.
72 min: The corner falls to Torres whose side footed shot is blocked. Substitution for Everton Beckford off, James Vaughan on.
73 min: here's Benjamin Hendy on Beckford's contribution: "Considering he's been pretty maligned this season, I thought Beckford's finish was very good - he needed a lot of strength and composure to hold off Meireles and set himself to score. Considering he's jumped up from League One to the Premiership I think it's entirely understandable he'd take a little while to acclimatise and we might start to see a better player as he settles." Liverpool are starting to push Everton back but the Blues still threaten on the break.
75 min: Jack Rodwell's warming up for Everton now. Kuyt picks up the ball from Maxi and runs straight at Fellaini and Distin, but they block him and move forward. It doesn't stick to Vaughan, though, and Liverpool pile forward with Spearing finding Torres slightly to the right of the spot and he goes for a chip. Wide.
78 min: Rodwell on for Everton, Osman off. Brett writes: "I'm glad I'm not the only one that has noticed Skyrtl is utter pants. He just looks utterly lost. Maxi is a strange player too - great movement, good passer but seems to miss loads of chances. With all this space now I'd like to see Cole on for him, but I'm assuming he's injured?" Cole's on the bench so should be an option. Whether he's always injured even when he's fit is another issue entirely.
80 min: Everton throw in insiode Liverpool's half, back to Distin who lazily chips it straight to Kelly and Liverpool clear. More substitutions. Jonjo "I'll have a No0 crop" Shelvey is on for Meireles.
81 min Bilyaletdinov on for Everton, Anichebe off.
83 min Shelvey, out on the left, scoops a cross towards the penalty spot and Torres tries to wrap his leg around Distin to shoot but can't quite reach it.
84 min: Good link-up play between Bilyaletdinov and Vaugahn on the left but the last pass goes astray and Liverpool break, one of the many Liverpool baldies putting Maxi through but he's offside.
85 min: Here's N Zaman's take: "King Kenny should have taken off spearing and Maxi, for Aurelio and Pachecho. Push Johnson RM, Aurelio LB, Pachecho LM. Simple." Simple? I'm confused. I've never seen Pachecho play either so couldn't comment. Liverpool wide on the right with Shelvey who crosses, to the centre of the goal, nodded on and Johnson is bundled over (fairly) and the ball goes out for a corner.
87 min: Fellaini just did a ridiculous header, straight off his afro in the wrong direction to Torres but he pushes the ball too far ahead of himself and he knocks it out for a goalkick.
89 min: Everton corner off Kyrgiakos. Some debate whether Everton's first came from a wrongly-awarded corner. This one goes to the far post, swung out and whhen the shot comes in Reina lets it past the post. There was a deflection off Kuyt but the ref gave a goalkick.
90 min: Kuyt fouls from the goalkick. Everton's free kick goes to Fellaini but he used his arms to climb so Liverpool now get a free-kick.
90 min + 1: There's going to be four minutes of added time. Head tennis from Liverpool from Skrtel's long ball but when it comes down Everton push forward and Spearing fouls Fellaini to break upm the move 50 yards from goal. The free kick is chipped up, pinballs around and Liverpool boot it out for a throw.
90 min +3: Vaughan penalised for fouling Skrtel but he comes off worse. Reina whacks it up and Shelvey tries to latch on to the knock down but Howard comes out swiftly to snatch it off him.
Final whistle Liverpool 2-2 Everton A fair result in the end. Liverpool did well in the first half, Torres especially running hard and getting better service from Kuyt and Meireles than he's been used to this season. Everton came back superbly in the second-half, exploiting Liverpool's weakest suit, defensive heading and organisation between the two centre-halves to equalise then take the lead. Tim Howard let Liverpool back in the game by conceding the penalty. Ray K Gives his man of the match award to Martin Kelly and he was excellent in the first half and decent in the second half. Thought Meireles was also bright in the first 45 minutes and you can seen why Kuyt is a manager's dream. Some were mocking Beckford but that was a fine finish and Osman's intelligent run found him superbly. Maybe not a great game, but an exciting one and that's about the best we get this season in the Premier League. Thanks for your emails. Much appreciated. You can join Jacob Steinberg for the Spurs v Man United game with a quick click here. Bye.