While watching the Merseyside derby at the weekend, there was an unbelievable feeling of parity between Everton and Liverpool. Any differences in quality between the sides seem pretty marginal, and from about 20 minutes in, the smart money was on a stalemate. So, have Everton conclusively caught up to, or even overtaken their traditional rivals as Liverpool’s best club?
Well, thanks to the derby result, Everton lie 5 points above Liverpool with just two games remaining. Barring a meltdown from the Toffees, they are going to finish above the Reds for the second season in a row. Last year they finished four points above Liverpool, and in a running total of Premier League points over the last four seasons, Everton have piled up 231 compared to their rival’s 228. However you feel the two sides stack up to each other, consistency in the League is Everton’s domain.
Interestingly, while Everton have compiled three more Premier League points than Liverpool over the last four seasons, the Reds have a better goal difference than the Toffees of 32 during the same time. This stat reinforces the commonly held view that Everton have become a grind out results at all cost side, whereas Liverpool are a mercurial mix of brilliance and inconsistency
One area where it is hard to imagine Everton ever overtaking Liverpool is financial and commercial influence. Liverpool’s history and wealth mean it will likely always be a bigger brand and have larger transfer budgets. Anfield also brings in between 8000-9000 more people a week than Goodison Park. Still, UEFA’s financial fair play rules will cause a rethink to the frivolous spending seen at Liverpool in the last few seasons, and they may well create an environment where the much more conservatively run and owned Everton thrive.
2012 Carling Cup Champions – Gerard leads the celebrations with his team mates
Positively for the Kop, recent cup history suggests Liverpool still hold an edge over Everton as the Reds won the League Cup last year, and were runners up in the FA Cup two seasons ago. That said though, Everton were in an FA cup final as recently as 2009, when they narrowly lost to Chelsea. Many argue that domestic cup success is becoming less and less important because top clubs now rarely pick their strongest XI’s throughout the tournaments. This though makes them a good test of squad depth, which is an important indicator in determining the status and quality of a club.
Managers is probably an area where Everton fans feel they have the edge, but for the first time ever David Moyes has not renewed his Everton contract well before it runs out (which is in a few weeks time). As the Guardian puts it, “at the very least, he is weighing up his options”. It is anyone’s guess as to whether Brendan Rogers is the future of Liverpool due to the managerial soap-opera of the last few seasons. Some think he has done enough in his time at the club, and some don’t, simple as.
Form against the ‘big dogs’ of the league is another area of similarity. Against the top five clubs this seasons, Everton have taken 10 points, while Liverpool only have 8. Last season though it was Liverpool who fared better, scoring 12 points against the same five teams, while Everton only took 10.
This rivalry is amongst the best in English and European football. It is two historical powerhouses, who are both on the verge of success, but need different things to push them over the edge. Liverpool need stability both on and off the field. Many changes are required including stopping ridiculous spending, stopping a potential manager carousal and stopping players literally biting off more than they can chew. Everton have consistency like almost no other club, they just need to break into the Premier League’s elite, probably through some increased financial backing. The point of this post though was to show you that however you feel about these two clubs, there is probably a lot less in-between them than you think.