By FOX Sports Staff
Everton may be five points ahead of their city rivals in the league table but with a tricky end of season fixture against Chelsea, they cannot afford a loss in the final Merseyside derby of Jamie Carragher's career.
The defender is set to retire from the club at the end of the season and will be featuring in his 30th derby. The Toffees, however, will have to do without captain Phil Neville after manager David Moyes revealed that a knee problem will keep the defender - who was also not involved in the Fulham game last week - out of the game.
FOX Sports profiles the key battles that could decide the encounter at the Anfield Stadium.
Predicted Starting XIs:
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Sturridge, Coutinho
Subs: Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Coates, Shelvey, Assaidi, Borini, Suso, Coady.
Form guide: WDDDW
Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Coleman, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Mirallas.
Subs: Mucha, Anichebe, Duffy, Oviedo, Barkley, Jelavic, Naismith, Hibbert.
Form guide: DWDLW
Jamie Carragher vs Marouane Fellaini
If there's one thing that both Carragher and Fellaini love, it's the physical side of the battle.
The long-serving Liverpool defender is arguably at a disadvantage, especially in the pace department, but he makes up for it with a masterful understanding of positional play and manager Brendan Rodgers will definitely have a hard time replacing the former England international for the coming season.
The Belgian, on the other hand, will look to assert his aerial superiorty on the Liverpool defence although the presence of free-running midfielders such as Philippe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing could mean that he will have to help out in defence more often than usual.
Philippe Coutinho vs Seamus Coleman
At the other side of the pitch, it will be Coleman's responsibility to pay close watch to Liverpool starlet Coutinho who has lit up the Premier League recently with his sublime passing and dribbling. He has already weighed in with five assists and was at his superlative best in the 6-0 dismantling of Newcastle.
The young Brazilian also has a tendency to drift down the left and therefore Coleman will have to track back and police the right flank for the visitors. With Jose Enrique likely to go on his typical overlapping runs, the Irishman will have his hands full.
Originally a midfielder, Coleman has been converted into a defender by Moyes this season and the 24-year-old has demonstrated an industry and doggedness to his play that has left many a winger gasping for options.
Steven Gerrard vs Darren Gibson
It is expected that Gibson will make his return from injury in this crucial Merseyside derby and it would be no surprise if he's thrust straight into the starting line-up to help Everton manage their nemesis in Gerrard.
Last season, the Liverpool legend grabbed a devastating hat-trick in the same fixture and will be eager to enter the list of top five scorers in Merseyside derbies with a goal or two on the night.
Gerrard may have had to convert to more of a holding midfielder role in recent weeks as the likes of Stewart Downing, Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge are adept at making the forward runs but the Liverpudlian will take every opportunity to sneak into the box and test Howard with his trademark drives.
Daniel Sturridge vs Phil Jagielka
Perhaps the most interesting battle on the park will be between Sturridge and Jagielka. The experience and judgement of Jagielka will be sorely tested by the youthful acceleration of Sturridge who will once again be expected to fill the main striker role in the absence of Luis Suarez.
The ex-Chelsea man scored a clinical brace against Newcastle last week and has struck once every 120 minutes for the Reds in the Premier League.
Jagielka, on the other hand, will see this match as an opportunity to stamp his authority in the city of Liverpool as, with Carragher's retirement, he could very well become the best central defender in the region. The game will also be an ideal opportunity for him to establish his captaincy credentials.