Everton v Liverpool: Alan Hansen and Graeme Sharp's predictions

FA Cup semi-final

  • Venue: Wembley
  • Date: Saturday, 14 April
  • Kick-off: 1230 BST

Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live from 1230 BST and live text commentary on the BBC website

Everton and Liverpool meet for the 218th time at Wembley on Saturday with a place in the FA Cup final up for grabs.

Liverpool have already won the Carling Cup this season but have struggled in the Premier League, while David Moyes is looking for his first trophy as Everton manager.

Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen and ex-Everton striker Graeme Sharp assess the derby clash and give BBC Sport their predictions.

Alan Hansen - Liverpool to win

Liverpool have not had much good news in losing six games out of their last eight in the Premier League - but I am still backing them to beat Everton at Wembley on Saturday to reach the FA Cup final.

It may fly in the face of logic to say this and, on recent form, some would have Everton as favourites, but Liverpool have performed well in the big games this season and the Wembley environment will suit them.

Head to head

Everton Liverpool

* Correct at 13 April 2012

66

Wins

87

64

Draws

64

5-0 (1909)

Biggest win

6-0 (1935)

9

League titles

18

5

FA Cups

7

0

European Cups

5

0

League Cups

8

Dixie Dean (19)

Top scorer

Ian Rush (25)

Neville Southall (41)

Most apps

Ian Rush (36)

They have won away at Chelsea in the Premier League and League Cup, beat Manchester City over two legs in the Carling Cup semi-final and also knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup.

This is such an intriguing game not only because it is an FA Cup semi-final but also because it has the capacity to save Liverpool's season and make Everton's.

I do not buy into the suggestion that Kenny Dalglish's position is under scrutiny. He is not going to walk away and the owners are not going to sack him, but this is still a huge game for Liverpool.

The problem for Dalglish is that Liverpool's form has fluctuated wildly between these highs and lows in the league and cups when the aim should be for an upward incline with only the occasional dip.

Liverpool fans will have watched the old footage of Bill Shankly pointing at the League Championship trophy and saying: "This is the one we want. This is the bread and butter."

Liverpool should always be aiming for the title or to be in the Champions League and Dalglish will be as disappointed as anyone at the way the Premier League season has gone.

Kenny Dalglish ahead of Saturday's semi-final

But if you win two out of the three competitions you enter, it is difficult to deem a season as a bad one. It would perhaps be marked "average to good".

To suggest the league form has been anything other than very disappointing since the turn of the year is stupid - but, if Dalglish claims a second trophy, the critics will have nowhere to go. If Liverpool don't win, the critics will have everywhere to go, of course.

Everybody knows I am a friend, former colleague and great admirer of Dalglish but I really do believe there is a need for some context. When he came back to the club a year ago in January it was on its knees.

While fingers have been pointed at Dalglish's signings, everyone is culpable. I really can't see anything other than a win for them. Suspended goalkeeper Pepe Reina will be a big miss but Dalglish and Liverpool have real match-winners like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to call on.

But FA Cup semi-finals can make fools of us all and Everton are not just a good side, they are a really good side.

They have been outstanding since January and no-one needs me to remind them how highly I rate David Moyes, who I think is a superb manager.

But I am still tipping my old club to beat Everton and reach Wembley once more.

Graeme Sharp - Everton to win

Liverpool have an amazing confidence about the FA Cup semi-final against Everton - but let them be as confident as they always are. If you are talking about favourites, the form team is Everton.

Archive: Lineker and Lawro play snooker ahead of the 1986 FA Cup final between Everton and Liverpool

Form does not matter too much in derbies but the pressure is on Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish more than Everton and David Moyes considering the money they have spent.

Yes, they could win two trophies after lifting the League Cup but you only have to listen to their fans on phone-ins and the words of die-hard Reds like John Aldridge  to know their season has been a massive disappointment, and many of the players they have bought have failed.

Liverpool's form since the turn of the year has been among the worst in the Premier League and they will now have third-choice keeper Brad Jones playing at Wembley  after Pepe Reina and Doni were sent off.

Reina is one of the best keepers in the Premier League. If you lose a player of that calibre it is always a blow, so I can see Everton putting Jones under real pressure and testing him out at set-pieces, which they excel at anyway.

Everton have come on strongly since January. Everybody knew what Everton's problems were before the start of the season - we didn't really have a striker we could rely on. We sold Yakubu to Blackburn and Jermaine Beckford left for Leicester City, while Louis Saha was not really doing it.

League table since 1 Jan

Played Won Pts

1. Man Utd

14

11

34

2. Newcastle

14

9

29

3. Man City

15

9

29

4. Arsenal

14

9

28

5. Everton

16

7

26

18. A Villa

13

2

12

19. Liverpool

14

3

12

20. Wolves

14

1

5

Nikica Jelavic has come in from Rangers for a bargain £5m and been a massive influence. He is intelligent, can hold the ball up and plays around people. It gives the midfield players confidence and it is no coincidence Tim Cahill's form has improved since he arrived.

Jelavic has real awareness and has also brought what Everton were missing most - a top-class reliable finisher.

When I first saw him start and score the winner against Spurs, I thought "we might have found a real centre-forward here". He is a very composed finisher. If you watch every goal he has scored for Everton he has not blasted one. Every one has been passed into the net.

David Weir is back at Everton as a coach now and he played with him at Rangers. He said: "This boy can really play and he's not soft touch either." So he will be a big player if Everton want to beat Liverpool.

Everton's big disappointment since the turn of the year was the derby at Anfield, which ended in a 3-0 defeat with David Moyes getting criticised in certain quarters for fielding a weakened team.

Derby day by numbers

  • 2: Only David Johnson and Peter Beardsley have scored for both teams in a derby game
  • 20: The number of red cards in a Merseyside derby in the Premier League

Only a fool would ignore the quality Liverpool have in someone like Steven Gerrard. Stewart Downing is a good winger and, whatever anyone says about him, Luis Suarez is a real danger up front.

When games like this come along we always look for little omens. Everton beat Sunderland 4-0 in their last game - and the last time they won at home by that scoreline was when they beat Wigan before the semi-final win against Manchester United at Wembley in 2009.

Liverpool will be confident but the mood and results around the Everton camp suggests they have every reason to be confident too.