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Coral’s Premier League era Merseyside combined XI

The Merseyside derby is coming up on February 7th, and that got Coral’s football experts thinking. Who would make a Premier League era combined XI from Everton and Liverpool?

We’ve picked our favourites past and present from either side of Stanley Park. Who makes our all-star side? Read on to find out!

Goalkeeper: Neville Southall
Everton’s highest appearance maker gets the nod in nets. Joining the Toffees in 1981, Wales stopper Southall transcended footballing eras by spending 17 years on the books at Goodison Park. His massive presence and stature, but also loyalty, made him edge out Liverpool’s cult heroes like David James, Bruce Grobbelaar and Jerzy Dudek.

Right back: Steve Finnan
Ex-Republic of Ireland right back Finnan keeps out compatriot and current Toffees counterpart Seamus Coleman because of his amazing achievement of working his way up from non-league. Lauded at Liverpool, he won the Champions League and FA Cup in successive seasons.

Centre back: Dave Watson
Like Everton stopper Southall, local defender Watson transcended footballing eras during 15 years (1986-2001) with the Blue half of Merseyside. Both played key roles in the 1995 FA Cup final win over Manchester United.

Centre back: Jamie Carragher
A lock for inclusion after 17 years as a pro at Anfield (1996-2013). Now a pundit with Sky Sports, Bootle-born Carragher is one of two Liverpool locals we’ve picked that had links with Everton from boyhood, but represented the red half of Merseyside. Whether at full back earlier in his career, or centre half he always gave everything as the clip below illustrates. All that’s missing from Carra’s club trophy collection is the Premier League title.

Left back: Leighton Baines
No full back has more Premier League assists than Baines, and his hugely consistent displays at Goodison get him in ahead of John Arne Riise and versatile Toffees defender David Unsworth. He comes from Kirkby and possesses superb set piece nous. Baines is a 6/1 shot to score in the latest Merseyside derby anytime, most likely from a dead ball (if Kevin Mirallas doesn’t snatch it off him).

Defensive midfield: Xabi Alonso
Spain centurion Alonso showed the world a holding player doesn’t have to be a blunt instrument to be effective. Rather than crunching tackles and getting away with niggling fouls, the Basque Country native showed remarkable vision and mastery of crossfield passing to provide cover in front of Liverpool’s centre backs during their Champions League (2005) and FA Cup (2006) triumphs.

Right midfield: Steven Gerrard
It’s often been said Whiston-born and Reds skipper Gerrard is the physical embodiment of the Kop. Although he is leaving for MLS franchise LA Galaxy at the end of this season after being on the books at Anfield since the age of nine, like old teammate Carragher he’s just missing the Premier League from his club honours. Odds of 11/4 say Gerrard will score anytime in his last Merseyside derby.

He has certainly hurt Everton before, as this Anfield hat-trick from March 2012 clearly shows:

Left midfield: Steve McManaman
It wouldn’t be right to let this Merseyside Premier League era XI pass us by without a reference to ‘the Spice Boys’ of Liverpool. McManaman, a wideman later converted to an attacking midfielder, comes from Kirkdale and spent nine seasons with the Reds (1990-99).

Attacking midfield: Tim Cahill
Australia star Cahill has just won the Asian Cup with his country, but enjoyed eight years (2004-12) at Goodison. His aerial ability and penchant for stunning strikes, as well as fondness for a tackle, made him an instant hit with Toffees supporters.

Cahill scrapped for everything, whether deployed up front or in midfield by David Moyes, and his return was consistent. This late equaliser at Anfield in January 2009 is typical of his aerial prowess:

Striker: Luis Suarez
If only Liverpool still had Suarez now. This Merseyside derby would be something for him to get his teeth into. Seriously, though, the Uruguay superstar was carrying Brendan Rodgers’ Reds before being sold to Barcelona last summer. The League Cup in 2012 was Suarez’s only honour will at Anfield, but he fired them to the cusp of the Premier League title last term only to see the challenge falter.

Striker: Robbie Fowler
Completing our all-star XI is the man nicknamed ‘God’ by the Kop. Hailing from Toxteth, Fowler had two stints at Anfield (1993-2001 and 2006-07) and was hugely popular despite a high-profile falling out with Gerard Houllier that resulted in his £12m sale to Leeds. He outscored Michael Owen, so we’ve left the BT Sport commentator on the bench.

Substitutes
We couldn’t leave it at just XI with so many legendary and popular figures at both Everton and Liverpool, so here’s some names that almost made the cut.

Pepe Reina would be our reserve goalie after his lengthy service (2005-14) at Anfield. Seamus Coleman, a 9/1 anytime scoring shout for the derby, was unlucky to miss out. We just couldn’t fit Sami Hyypia and David Unsworth into our defence, with honourable mentions going out to David Weir and Alan Stubbs.

In midfield, Javier Mascherano was an alternative steel to the silk of Alonso. Long-serving Evertonian Leon Osman looks set to miss this derby day, but is worthy of note. John Arne Riise would be a versatile left-footed option out wide, though we went with a diamond.

Up front the aforementioned Michael Owen is held in reserve alongside another Liverpool scoring sensation that went on to struggle elsewhere in Fernando Torres. That just leaves target man territory to account for, and Scotland’s fearsome centre forward Duncan Ferguson would terrorise defences with his physical presence if called upon.