It has been called the friendly derby but when Everton and Liverpool play at Goodison Park on Sunday it will be a different experience to any of the teams’ 235 previous meetings. This time it will be the antiseptic derby, played behind closed doors without the atmosphere that has made the game famous. This is unavoidable because of the Coronavirus crisis but it is a shame. The mood of Evertonians at the moment would have created as hostile an environment as this match-up has ever experienced. It would be hard to find a group of fans who are angrier that the Premier League has resumed. The bottom six teams wanted the season to be made null and void because they feared the financial consequences of relegation and it would be no surprise if their supporters backed their stance. Everton were not in this situation and their hierarchy maintained a sensible approach to restarting the campaign. Like the majority of their fellow clubs, they accepted the need to complete the fixtures as long as it was safe to do so. That is in stark contrast to the attitude of some former players and a significant proportion of the fan base who have given the impression that finishing the season is an outrage. Liverpool, of course, go into the derby 22 points clear at the top of the table. It is inevitable that Anfield’s 30-year title drought will end in the next week or two. Would diehard Blues be so enraged if, say, Manchester City were running away with the league? It is doubtful. Every Evertonian’s biggest footballing fear is about to come true. Liverpool will be crowned champions very soon and a historic level of gloating is about to break out on Merseyside. It will be no fun being an Everton supporters this summer. Liverpool’s greatest day: driving an open-top bus through Everton’s hopes and dreams in 1986 At least City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal means that Klopp’s team cannot clinch the trophy at Goodison. That would be almost too much to bear for regulars of the Gwladys Street End . Nevertheless, the gap between the sides is cavernous. Liverpool are 45 points ahead of Carlo Ancelotti’s team. To put this in context, Everton and Manchester United – the traditional rivals for Kopites – could combine their points total for the season and still only equal the tally of the champions-elect. And Liverpool would be way ahead on goal difference. It is all the more painful for Evertonians because this was supposed to be the age of change. Farhad Moshiri became involved in the club in 2016 and acquired the major shareholding two years later. This caused an outburst of optimism among fans. After two decades of parsimony, Goodison had money available to spend in the transfer market. Liverpool appeared to be within touching distance. The Everton resurgence did not materialise. Instead, events across Stanley Park caught the attention of the football world. Klopp took his team into the stratosphere, winning the Champions League last year. That was bad enough for Evertonians but the German followed up by producing one of the most dominant top-flight campaigns in history until it was interrupted by the pandemic . This underlined Everton’s second-class status on Merseyside and hardened the mood among their supporters. It is bad enough being bad but far worse when your neighbours are great. The bleak Anfield night in Liverpool’s history at the centre of a massive Covid-19 spread Only the most irrational and partisan supporter could deny Liverpool’s status as one of the very best sides in English football history. The title race was effectively over by February. The gap between the league leaders and the chasing pack is so wide that the only way to deny Klopp’s team the Premier League trophy would have been to scrap the season completely. That would have been contrary to all sporting and competitive values. Yet the suspicion remains that most Evertonians’ only hope for 2019-20 since play was suspended was that the campaign would be wiped from the record books and they could pretend it did not happen. They will argue that supporters make a material difference to the way games are played. Empty stands at Goodison deny Everton one of their biggest presumed advantages; a partisan stadium fulminating at the old enemy. Games without spectators favour the away team in a number of respects. Referees admit privately that their decisions can be unconsciously coloured by the crowd. The idea that supporters can be a great leveller is overstated – at least if the evidence of the past decade in derbies is taken into account. Liverpool’s last defeat was in 2010, when a dispirited team managed by Roy Hodgson were put to the sword 2-0 in front of an ebullient Gwladys Street End. In the eight Everton home derbies since, the hosts have drawn six and lost twice. The renowned Goodison roar did not have much of an effect on a number of Liverpool sides who were considerably less able than the present team. Given the gulf between the clubs, it is probably for the best that the game is played without spectators. Everton fans are unlikely to enjoy what they might see. Confidence is high at Anfield, Klopp can select from a full-strength squad and the players are keen to wrap up the six points they need as quickly as possible. There is a great sense of unfinished business for Liverpool; the only thing Everton have to play for is their pride and the fans. This strangest of derbies spans the divide between triumphalism and despair. Evertonians are already suffering the midsummer blues. Whatever happens on Sunday, their mood will get worse very soon when Liverpool finally lift the Premier League trophy.