16 October 2020 10:48
Stay up to date ahead of the Derby with the LFC newsletter Subscribe now Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email There are few Premier League stadiums less inviting for visitors than Everton's fabled Goodison Park. Not for nothing do Blues supporters regularly refer to the Grand Old Lady as being a "bear pit". But John Barnes believes the lack of such a hostile welcome will count against Liverpool when they make the short trip across Stanley Park on Saturday for the 237th Merseyside derby. Supporters haven't been allowed inside stadiums to watch elite football since the coronavirus pandemic caused a three-month shutdown in March. With no imminent plans to open the turnstiles, players are still adjusting to performing inside empty venues.
And that, for Barnes, is having an effect on the tactics and approach of several teams. "Having no fans in the stadium helps Everton more than Liverpool on Saturday," says the LFC legend. "I was at the last derby at Goodison in June where there were no fans, and Everton were the better side and should really have won. "What you don't want to do when you play Liverpool is get into a game of basketball against them, where one team attacks then the other attacks and so on. Sign up to our LFC newsletter for all the best derby coverage The international break is almost over and Premier League football is back with a bang. Liverpool travel to Everton on Saturday for the first Merseyside derby of the season. Sign up to our LFC newsletter for all the best coverage of the Reds from Paul Gorst, Ian Doyle and the rest of the ECHO team ahead of the big clash. That's not all though, you'll get all the latest breaking Liverpool news direct to your inbox, as well as analysis, opinion and so much more. How do I sign up? It's free, easy and takes no time at all. First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre. Once you're there, put your email address where it says at the top, then click on the Liverpool FC newsletter. There are other ones too if you want them as well. When you've made your choice, press the Update Preference button at the bottom. Your emails will come through to your inbox from that moment on. It's that simple. "The best way is to sit back, look to catch them on the counter-attack and profit from set-pieces. "But Everton fans don't allow their team to play that way at home. "I've been to Goodison when Liverpool have been the better side and Everton have been under the cosh, and rather than accepting they were trying to hold on, the fans were urging the home team forward. "And when they've driven forward, Liverpool have counter-attacked and destroyed them. "But with no fans in there, Everton won't have to do any of that." Barnes, speaking to the ECHO, adds: "Carlo Ancelotti won't mind if Liverpool have all the possession. He will have Everton well organised. "Then, of course, there are some players who prefer there to be no crowd. "I'm not saying there are Everton or Liverpool players like that. But certainly there being no crowd is helping some players in the Premier League perform better. "Everton fans are very passionate, but them not being there will help their team on Saturday." The Blues have won their first seven games in all competitions, four of which have come at home, to move three points clear at the Premier League summit and into the last eight of the Carabao Cup. And Barnes has pointed to their summer recruitment as key to their revival. "Everton are playing with confidence and have a much better balance," he says. "As much as Evertonians are getting carried away by the performances of James Rodriguez, the balance has come from Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure. "And when you have two hard-working forwards like Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it allows you to have a player like James. "Calvert-Lewin is scoring goals because he's now in the right position down the centre, whereas previously he used a lot of his energy running wide into the channels. He's good in the air, strong and direct." Liverpool were heavily criticised following the 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa last time out, their heaviest loss in 57 years. Barnes, though, doesn't believe too much should be read into the margin of the setback. "I think the Villa game was a complete one-off," he says. "That's one bad performance in two years. Liverpool have lost games in that period, but they've never put in an inept performance like that. *The BT Sport Monthly Pass lets you watch BT Sport for a simple monthly fee of £25 with no contract. Customers can watch all BT Sport Premier League fixtures for the next 30 days including Everton v Liverpool from 11.30am on Saturday. For more info visit bt.com/monthlypass "What would have disappointed Jurgen Klopp the most is they were outfought and Villa ran more than them. That's what Liverpool pride themselves on. "If they needed a wake-up call, then what was it."