Liverpool v Everton preview

Liverpool v Everton live on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday from 3.30pm

All the vital ingredients are in place to concoct a classic Merseyside derby as Everton travel to Anfield to take on neighbours Liverpool on Sunday.

This local rivalry adopts a distinctly European feel at the weekend as far more than bragging rights are up for grabs in front of the Sky Sports cameras as the winner looks set to take a giant step towards securing qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool currently occupy fourth place in the table and with that the final spot to earn progression to Europe's top club competition next term, but Everton are only two points behind their hosts and are snapping at the Reds' heels.

Talk of the battle for fourth had subsided over recent weeks as Liverpool have taken great pleasure in pointing out that their real target remained the Premier League title and that their greatest quarrel existed with table-topping Manchester United.

Battle for fourth

However, United put an end to all that with a 3-0 win at Old Trafford last weekend and Everton will now be looking forward to a gloating opportunity as Liverpool are forced to backtrack with their tails between their legs to their battle for fourth.

Everton have been strongly fancied to repeat their performance of 2005 when they beat Liverpool to the final Champions League berth and the Toffees will be looking forward to upsetting the Reds in the 207th Merseyside meeting at Anfield.

If Everton are to achieve their aim it is highly likely they will first be forced to stop Liverpool's star striker Fernando Torres.

Torres, who has hit 20 league goals this season, has recovered from the bruising he took at Old Trafford after playing only 50 minutes of Spain's 1-0 win over Italy in midweek following an agreement between Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and international boss Luis Aragones.

Cahill absence

Midfielder Javier Mascherano, though, will be suspended following his controversial dismissal against United, but defender Steve Finnan is close to a return after a groin problem.

Yossi Benayoun could come in for Dirk Kuyt - who would receive a less than warm welcome from the Everton faithful following his two penalty conversions and unpunished high-flying challenge on Phil Neville in Liverpool's 2-1 win at Goodison Park in October- on the right of midfield.

Everton manager David Moyes goes into the derby without Tim Cahill as it has been confirmed the influential midfielder is out for the rest of the season following a recurrence of his troublesome metatarsal injury.

Striker Andy Johnson is also a major doubt after sitting out last Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to West Ham with a groin injury.

Steven Pienaar's fitness will be assessed after illness, but Victor Anichebe should be available after recovering from a hip injury to play last week.