Kevin Kilbane: The evolving face of the Merseyside Derby

A lot has changed since the Friendly Derbies of the 1980s

BY Kevin Kilbane 14:00 Friday 31 March 2017, 14:00 31 Mar 2017

Image: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

I signed for Everton two days after the first Merseyside derby of the 2003-04 season in which Liverpool ended up winning 3-0 at Goodison Park.

So my first experience of the derby was when we went to Anfield in January 2004 and grinded out a draw.

It's been well documented that Everton have had little recent success at Anfield since Kevin Campbell's winner in '99 and it's a cloud that's probably been over Everton for a long time.

The success rate over the last five or six years hasn't been great as well. There hasn't been a win since 2010 both home and away.

There was nothing in it in the first derby of this season at Goodison Park and ended up being a really poor game - and it has been a bit like that in some Merseyside derbies.

It was similar to the 0-0 draw from January 2004 when we hadn't been having a great season. So to pick up something from Anfield was quite important to us.

The Merseyside derby often used to be referred to as the Friendly Derby and that was what I expected when I went into my first one. 

Growing up watching Merseyside derbies, I remember the '86 and '89 FA Cup finals when all the fans were going in together to the games on the trains, in the cars and walking up Wembley Way together.

John Aldridge of Liverpool (centre) in a goalmouth scuffle with Trevor Steven (left) and Dave Watson of Everton, during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London, on May 20, 1989. Liverpool won the match 3-2. (AP Photo/White)

But the reality now is very different. Every time I go back and watch Everton, I go to a local pub where there is a mixture of both Reds and Blues and the ribbing that they give each other... in fairness it's not necessarily the type that comes to punches. But punch ups have occurred because of it.

I've witnessed two punch ups in bars, and in what you would think is a family environment. I've certainly seen arguments around the derby so it's not as friendly as I'd envisaged.

Ahead of this week's derby, Everton have lost Seamus Coleman and Rodrigo Funes Mori to serious injuries. 

The Coleman injury is a big blow for Ronald Koeman's side. With his performances over the last few years and what he's done at the club and turning himself into one of the best - if not the best - full back in the Premier League, that will hurt the dressing room because he was very popular in there.

So it will be about Koeman lifting the team and getting themselves into the right frame of mind for this match.

From a psychological point of view, Everton definitely need a win at Anfield and maybe then we'll see a slight mentality shift with the players as well.

I think Everton are in a good position to do it. They have a striker in Romelu Lukaku who can seriously hurt Liverpool's defence and they've got players in form like Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas in recent weeks.

I honestly think Everton will get something from the game. I'm not saying they're going to go to Anfield and win the game, and that might be my blue heart speaking there a little bit, but I think they will get something.

Liverpool haven't been in the greatest form recently and haven't looked as cohesive or as good going forward in the last couple of months as they have been earlier on this season and so I fancy Everton to get something from the game.

The other big game this weekend will be Arsenal and Manchester City's clash in the race for the Top Four.

Arsenal have lost four out of their last five in the Premier League and the big games coming up for them now are must win matches. They've got to reverse this slide.

Their loss at West Brom highlighted a few issues and I think City will have too much. It will be either a City win or a draw.   

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