LONDON. — Lifted by Carlo Ancelotti’s astute leadership and the transformative signing of James Rodriguez, Everton have a golden opportunity to prove their rise to the top of the English Premier League football is no fluke.
They face Liverpool today.
Everton have gone 22 matches without a win over Liverpool since their last Merseyside derby success in October 2010.
But a decade on, Everton finally face their near neighbours from a position of strength, while Liverpool arrive at Goodison Park looking unusually vulnerable.
Everton’s perfect start to the season extended to a fourth successive league win when they brushed Brighton aside before the international break.
Just 24 hours later, Liverpool suffered a humiliating 7-2 loss at Aston Villa that highlighted the defensive flaws that have bedevilled the Premier League champions this season.
If Everton can take advantage of Liverpool’s mini-crisis, it would provide further evidence that Ancelotti’s side are capable of turning their early-season form into a sustained revival.
Without a major trophy since the 1995 FA Cup, Everton have languished in Liverpool’s shadow since the 1980s, when Howard Kendall led them to a pair of top-flight titles.
Thanks to the intuitive guidance of Italian boss Ancelotti and the sublime displays of Colombia playmaker James, the Goodison Park club have hope again.
Ancelotti’s relaxed public persona masks a fiercely competitive streak that has taken him across Europe in search of more managerial glory at an age when many of his peers are ready to step away from such a stressful job.
The 61-year-old has won domestic titles with Chelsea, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, as well as lifting the Champions League with Milan, as player and manager, and Real Madrid.
English Premiership Fixtures
Today: Everton v Liverpool (1:30pm); Chelsea v Southampton (4pm); Manchester City v Arsenal (6:30pm); Newcastle United v Manchester United (9pm).
Tomorrow: Sheffield United v Fulham (1pm); Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion (3pm); Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United (5:30pm); Leicester City v Aston Villa (8:15pm).
Monday: West Bromwich Albion v Burnley (6:30pm); Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (9pm).
Spanish La Liga Fixtures
Today: Granada v Sevilla (1pm); Celta de Vigo v Atlético Madrid (4pm); Real Madrid v Cádiz (6:30pm); Getafe v Barcelona (9pm).
Tomorrow: Eibar v Osasuna (12noon); Athletic Club v Levante (2pm); Villarreal v Valencia (4pm); Huesca v Real Valladolid (6:30pm); Deportivo Alavés v Elche (6:30pm); Real Betis v Real Sociedad (9pm).
Italian Serie A fixtures
Today: Napoli v Atalanta (3pm); Internazionale v Milan (6pm); Sampdoria v Lazio (6pm); Crotone v Juventus (8:45pm).
Tomorrow: Bologna v Sassuolo (12:30pm); Torino v Cagliari (3pm); Spezia v Fiorentina (3pm); Udinese v Parma (6pm); Roma v Benevento (8:45pm).
Monday: Hellas Verona v Genoa (8:45pm).— AFP.