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Toffees go into derby with sense of superiorty

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

PA

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Tough Covid-19 restrictions have cast a pre-winter gloom across Merseyside but at least Everton supporters have something to lift their spirits after their side's storming start to the Premier League season.

Tomorrow, Carlo Ancelotti's table-toppers host champions Liverpool at Goodison Park flushed with a rare sense of superiority over their Mersey rivals.

Everton boast the only 100pc record in the Premier League from teams that have played four games, are averaging three goals per game and in Dominic Calvert-Lewin have the division's joint-leading scorer.

By contrast, Liverpool, who were in a league of their own last season, went into the international shutdown licking their wounds after a 7-2 defeat by Aston Villa and after four games have the joint second-worst defensive record in the top flight.

Of course, it is far too early to be talking about a shift of power from the red to the blue half of Merseyside, but Everton's invigorating football so far and Liverpool's fragility have certainly heightened interest in Saturday's clash outside of the city itself.

Calvert-Lewin has been grabbing the headlines with his six league goals so far but it is Everton's new signings who have transformed Ancelotti's side from the sterile under-achievers they were last season into potential top-four candidates.

Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez has been a revelation so far in an attacking trio alongside Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison while the industry of Brazilian Allan and the power of Abdoulaye Doucoure have turned Everton's midfield into a formidable unit.

With back-up options such as new central defensive signing Ben Godfrey, Alex Iwobi, Bernard and Tom Davies, Everton's form does not look like being a flash in the pan.

They have won seven out of seven in all competitions so far but tomorrow's derby will be the ultimate litmus test as they seek a first league win over Liverpool for 10 years.

Ex-Everton defender Sylvain Distin said former Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid manager Ancelotti's impact has been a key factor in Everton's revival.

"He is in the same circle as Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho. You can sense that he is committed to the long term," he said. "Let's not get carried away!

"Saturday's derby against the Reds comes at the best moment. Liverpool are an injured beast after their defeat at Villa."

With the fixture coming 10 years to the day since the blue half of the city's last win in this fixture, optimism is high at Goodison Park.

Former Everton striker Sharp hopes it signals a return to when derbies between the two were more competitive. "You'd like to think so. It's been hard being an Evertonian for all those years," he said.