Imagine in the summer, before the fixture schedule was released, someone told you we would go to Goodison Park just six days before Christmas and win 1-0 thanks to a scrappy goal in added-time. Obvious response would have been “Oh yeah, if Carlsberg did football matches” sort of one, followed swiftly by a “but imagine the Everton fume if that actually happened“.
Well it has.
It was scrappy. The ref bottled it. Everton fans booed. It was your stereotypical derby and you know what, it was boss to watch. Why? Because Everton flew out the traps trying to land a haymaker and couldn’t get near us. They caught us cold and won the majority of second balls but winning second balls doesn’t mean you win the match. They tried and they failed. They huffed and they puffed but they couldn’t blow anything down. Their passion and adrenaline turned into resentment and frustration.
Liverpool started to dominate as the match wore on. Firmino nearly caught substitute ‘keeper Joel cold but the former Wigan man thwarted the Brazilian as the match headed towards an anticlimax. Everton had settled for a point and looked to dig in. Sturridge had other ideas and after leading the home side’s defence on a merry run across the face of goal his shot came back off the post and Mane smashed it home. Cue bedlam from the fans in the away end.
Another Derby without Defeat
Feels like forever since Everton won a derby. That’s how it should be. If you can’t recall it without help from Google it means we (the collective team) are doing well. Everton have tried different approaches when playing the derby but never seem to be able to get over the line. Bobby Martinez tried to pass us off the pitch and never won a derby. David Moyes simply came into these matches hoping not to lose. Ronald Koeman looked to blitz Liverpool early on. He seemed to wind his players up but give them no clear direction – a bit like slapping a bull. Had they looked to press high and pin Liverpool back they might have had some success. Instead they seemed to tire themselves out and then revert back to being a counter-attacking side.
Players Returning from Injury
Liverpool have looked a little thread-bare lately with youngsters making up the bench, but the return of Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge was a welcomed one. Both came on and had an impact on the game. Sturridge played a huge part in the winner and Can foiled Lukaku as the Belgian threatened to brutishly bash his way through to goal late on. It’s a welcomed sight with games against Stoke and Manchester City just around the corner.
Another Clean Sheet without Matip
There had been question-marks over Liverpool defensively without the brick wall known as Joel Matip. But now it’s two clean-sheets in a row without the former Schalke man. Against ‘Boro, the Klavan and Lovren partnership didn’t have much to do, but tonight, against Lukaku, they both held their own and didn’t get bullied. They held firm under the initial Everton barrage and it’s a positive. Having said that, I can’t wait for Matip’s return.