Noel Whelan expects a ‘spicy and nasty’ Merseyside derby as Everton prepare to host Liverpool behind close doors this afternoon.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former Leeds United striker was adamant that the absence of fans would not affect the nature of the game with plenty still at stake for both sides.

The derby will be held at Goodison Park despite concerns that fans will congregate outside the stadium regardless of advice regarding the spread of coronavirus.

Liverpool need two wins from their remaining nine games to ensure they win their first league title in 30 years while Everton still have outside hopes of finishing in the Champions League spots.

Whelan insisted there will be no love lost in the fixture even without the “shouting and intimidation” of the home crowd.

“There is not going to be any spice or nastiness for grit taken out of this fixture. It is what it is.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“They are playing for pride and people will still be watching and expecting them to win 50/50 challenges and expect them to challenge for balls where you might get hurt. That is part and parcel of a derby.

“I do not think it will make any difference that there is not any fans there. A bit less shouting and intimidation from the homes fans not being there but do not tell me that this does not matter to the players.

“It matters to the players and it matters to the city and they will be going out there to get the bragging rights – absolutely. There is no shadow of a doubt.

“Ancelotti will be demanding the same as Jurgen Klopp from his players. I do not expect anything but a very competitive tie.” 

In other Everton news, it can be REVEALED that free agent may have already agreed terms with the club after big development.

PLUS: Subscribe for free to our brilliant new YouTube channel for daily videos, interviews with our top pundits and special guests, and all the latest insight into the club you love.