Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
PA The Everton players celebrate a goal against Brighton.
David Meyler: Everton have been a breath of fresh air but Reds will bounce back in Merseyside derby
In his first column, the former Ireland midfielder gives his predictions on Ancelotti v Klopp and singles out Jayson Molumby for praise.

WE ARE DELIGHTED to announce that ex-Ireland international David Meyler has joined The42 as our new football columnist.

Every Friday, the former Hull City and Sunderland midfielder will give expert insight and his predictions ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action, alongside the latest William Hill prices. 

In his first column, he takes a closer look at Saturday’s Merseyside derby between surprise league leaders Everton and reigning champions Liverpool, before sharing his thoughts on young Irish talent Jayson Molumby.  

meyler banner on football aligned crop

Everton v Liverpool, 12.30pm Saturday

Everton have been a breath of fresh air so far this season.

If you look at the recruitment they did in the summer, bringing in James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure really strengthened their midfield and that has been key.

It’s probably an indication of how big a name Carlo Ancelotti is that he is able to attract high-profile players, particularly in the case of 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner Rodriguez.

The Toffees have hit the ground running since the restart, winning seven games from seven in all competitions. Putting the Carabao Cup victories over Salford City, Fleetwood Town and West Ham to one side, it is what they’ve done in the Premier League that I have been most impressed with.

Their win over Tottenham was a great result to start with and they went on to score five against West Brom, four against Brighton and then to beat Crystal Palace away from home, which is always tough. 

Saturday will be their biggest test so far and should give us an idea of where this team is at, as not only are Liverpool their closest rivals but they are also the current champions.

I remember Seamus Coleman didn’t pull any punches after Everton’s 3-0 loss to Wolves back in July and that moment was possibly a turning point for a lot of the squad.

Sometimes when you sign players from overseas, you can have a problem in that they don’t buy into the culture of the club.

everton-v-brighton-and-hove-albion-premier-league-goodison-park PA Toffees captain Seamus Coleman is likely to return. PA

But Ancelotti is in the job 10 months now so he understands how it works, and the players have been brought up to speed with how he manages and what he requires to get the most out of them.

If you look at the performances of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it’s fair to say that he blew hot and cold last season. Now he has found that level of consistency to push on under the Italian’s guidance.

You always knew he had the potential but the question is can he be a top striker to get you 20 Premier League goals? Last month, Ancelotti spoke about how regularly Filippo Inzaghi scored with one-touch finishes and said he had been working on that with his current No.9.

A player like Rodriguez has the ability to find you in those spaces, so it’s a case of Calvert-Lewin taking his chances. All the signs show that he has worked incredibly hard on his finishing and his all-round game. That’s why he has bagged six league goals already this season, which is a brilliant return. It certainly looks like Everton have a bright young England striker on their hands.

The new signings will have immediately dragged the standard of training up. They have been at major clubs around the world and will be used to top quality sessions. During my time in the Premier League, Everton under David Moyes had fantastic characters and it seems that Ancelotti has now found a good blend too.

When a manager as experienced as him comes out and compares Seamus Coleman to John Terry, Paolo Maldini and Sergio Ramos, it shows that he is right up there with some of the best as Everton captain.

The type of character Seamus is, I’m sure he’s doing great work off the field and around the training ground. He’s a model professional and one who leads by example. He looked revitalised this season before picking up a hamstring injury but is expected to return tomorrow, which would be a major boost.

I’d imagine Everton is one of those places where you’d love to be a part of the group because everything is going so well for them right now.

liverpool-v-arsenal-premier-league-anfield PA Jurgen Klopp and Sadio Mane. PA

After Liverpool’s 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa, a lot of people said their line was too high meaning they left massive spaces in behind for Villa to exploit. However, Jurgen Klopp explained afterwards that his front three — Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota — didn’t press accordingly and when you watch back the chances that Liverpool gave up, he was spot on.

They will be buoyed by news that Sadio Mane is due to be involved after his Covid-19 related absence, while Thiago Alcantara should also be available and Jordan Henderson is likely to return after playing for England during the international break. The big miss will be in goal as Alisson remains injured.

If Liverpool give up chances again, you’d imagine Calvert-Lewin will take one with the form he is in. That said, I still expect the visitors to bounce back from the Villa defeat and come out on top at Goodison Park.

I fancy it to be 2-1 or 3-1 to Liverpool. If Mane plays, he will be a threat, and then of course there’s Salah, whose goalscoring record over the last couple of seasons has been incredible. 

Crystal Palace v Brighton, 2pm Sunday

I was really encouraged by Jayson Molumby’s performances for Ireland over this past week. He was demanding the ball from centre-halves and full-backs, and trying to link up the play between defence, midfield and attack. He looked to gain possession in good areas and play it forward, driving the team up the pitch, and I thought he was very combative.

When you’re a midfielder, you need to get the better of your opponent and I think he did that. Stephen Kenny made him captain of the U21s and I definitely think he’s an exciting prospect going forward, so it will be an interesting one to follow over the next couple of months.

You hope that he can now play more regularly for Brighton or, alternatively, go on loan to the Championship to get game time again. The Waterford native had a spell at Millwall last year and by all accounts was excellent.

jayson-molumby Ryan Byrne / INPHO Molumby was man of the match for Ireland against Wales last weekend. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

He’s at the age where he needs to be playing week in week out to kick on and get to that next level in his career. I’m certainly expecting Molumby to become a regular for Brighton in the next 12-18 months, and he will be hoping to be involved this Sunday when Brighton take on Palace at Selhurst Park.

The way Roy Hodgson’s team play, they have an exceptional talent in Wilfried Zaha and players that can hurt you like Andros Townsend and Jordan Ayew.

If Zaha is at it, then I’d fancy them to win the game so Brighton need to keep him quiet. The young boy Tariq Lamptey has come in from Chelsea and enjoyed an unbelievable start to the season at full-back. His pace is frightening.

Provided he can get the better of Zaha, then you could see the Seagulls picking up a result. It’s a tough one to call, but I reckon it will be a draw

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code P30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see BeGambleAware.org

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