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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Wizard Wijnaldum can cast his spell on Merseyside derby

Liverpool midfielder could make the difference

Georginio Wijnaldum scores important goals for Liverpool
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports 1, 12.30pm Saturday

The 228th Merseyside derby may lack some of the magic of past matches between the Stanley Park rivals with Liverpool and Everton both suffering injury blows but it could pay to bank on Georginio Wijnaldum casting a goalscoring spell on proceedings at Anfield.

Liverpool are odds-on across the board and deservedly so but better bets are to be had in other markets with the Reds having won only three of their last ten matches and going into battle without key first-team performers Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana.

Things are even worse across the city where Everton, without a win at Anfield since Kevin Campbell scored in 1999, arrive minus the services of four important players in Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, James McCarthy and Morgan Schneiderlin. 

In these situations it often comes down to squad depth - which is a problem for both teams - and which manager is able to protect his weaknesses with tactical tinkering.

In that respect Jurgen Klopp has had his critics this season. When Liverpool are on top of their game they are as good as most in the Premier League but there is a lack of consistency, particularly in the easier matches when the Reds have been found wanting.

So it will probably please the Kop that Klopp's men face a big test as Liverpool are unbeaten against their fellow top-seven opponents. These are often the games when Wijnaldum's scoring wizardry comes to the fore.

Wijnaldum has notched only five times in the Premier League but three of those came at home to Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, while the Dutchman has scored in three of his last six outings for the Reds.

The 26-year-old had a similar impact at Newcastle last season when he scored in just seven matches but that included fixtures against Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.

With Lucas and Emre Can tipped to start in a makeshift Liverpool midfield there should be more licence for Wijnaldum to break forward and possibly exploit gaps in a Schneiderlin-less Toffees engine-room.

Ronald Koeman's men are going to find it difficult with a paceless centre-back pairing of Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka, while Coleman's excellent raids down the right will be sorely missed.

However, being forced to defend deep is possibly the best approach anyway against Liverpool's speedy attack in which Sadio Mane is arguably the biggest threat, as he showed in the reverse fixture with the only goal in added time.

Everton rarely threatened on that December night but with 21-goal Romelu Lukaku in great nick they possess a striker who is capable of turning the derby in their favour if their weakened defence holds firm.

G Wijnaldum first goalscorer
0.5pt each-way 12-1 bet365 

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Team news
Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson have all been ruled out by Jurgen Klopp.

Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman, Morgan Schneiderlin, James McCarthy, Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic are all injured.

Key stat
Both teams have scored in ten of Liverpool's 14 home Premier League games this season.

Everton, without a win at Anfield since 1999, are minus the services of Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, James McCarthy and Morgan Schneiderlin
E.W. Terms
Sky bet