For 70 minutes, it was a Christmas party. The snow fell, the scoreboard looked pretty and the Kop sang a merry tune.
Liverpool players, picked in order to combat the sub-zero conditions, were far superior to those they came up against.
They were quicker than the Blues, stronger than the Blues, better technically than the Blues and ahead of the Blues, for the most.
But it wasn’t enough. A ball up the pitch, some contact and a penalty. 1-1, knocking the stuffing out of the Reds 15 days before we sit down to eat it. Everton haven’t ruined Liverpool’s Christmas, but today’s advent calendar chocolate best not be Toffee flavoured…
Lovren, oh Lovren…
For 76 minutes Dejan Lovren and those around him were sound. That’s all they needed to be. When your only real threat is a kid and a striker that wasn’t given a locker by the previous manager, sound is more than enough.
In the 76th minute though, Lovren’s masked slipped. Whether you deeply believe it’s a penalty or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s the age-old cliché of ‘giving the referee a decision to make’. When the opposition striker is charging alone towards the corner flag, no friend in sight, you don’t give the referee a decision to make. Lovren did.
The best form of his Liverpool career, he claimed to be in before the game. If that’s what the best looks like then you really must hope Joel Matip isn’t as out as long as some have suggested.
Everyone’s favourite centre-back continued to excel at right-back with another impressive performance. He had the bravery to put in the first proper challenge of the day, the one nobody gets booked for. He was second to the ball that time, but first to everything else.
Nothing went past him down his side of the pitch (literally dribbled past 0 times), he was quicker than the Everton players and stronger than them, even contributing going forward with an assist for Salah, although the goal was mainly down to individual brilliance.
Did Klopp get his selection right?
It’s a tricky one. Many are saying no, many are saying you play your best team in a derby regardless. I’m unsure. Back in the 2000’s when Chelsea were champions and Fulham were battling relegation, they played derby matches. Did Chelsea rest players? Yes. Did Chelsea win? Yes.
This season Liverpool are Chelsea and Everton are Fulham. Klopp had every reason to believe he could rest Firmino and Coutinho and win the game. He’s so nearly vindicated. If Mane squares it, if Salah heads it in, if there’s no penalty given, Klopp looks vindicated. The chances of all of those things failing to happen seemed fairly small. Maybe that was just Liverpool’s luck on Sunday. These things tend to balance out over the course of the season, as Klopp spoke about post-match, referring to the Mignolet non-red vs Stoke.
One of the things you didn’t have to battle through the snow to see at Anfield was that the bigger picture is much rosier for Liverpool than their neighbours.
Fair play to Everton. They stuck in, didn’t concede many clear cut chances and took the only chance they had to score. Their away fans loved it, going wild. If we were in that situation, we would love it.
But we’re not in that situation. We’re in the top four, with a Champions League last 16 draw coming up on Monday. Let’s let Everton celebrate their draw, whilst we look ahead to our draw!