The Merseyside Derby ended in yet another dull stalemate as Liverpool and Everton played out a 0-0 draw. The result ensured that Liverpool stayed in the top 3 as they look forward to the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
The ‘put-together’ line up
With one eye on the Champions League, and the mounting injury concerns meant that there was a real struggle putting together a cohesive lineup. The line up had the returning Clyne start for the first time this year. The left-back position was occupied by returning Klavan. Danny Ings made his first start this season on the right-hand side of the attacking three, which was led by Dominic Solanke; making his first start of 2018. The game also had Wijnaldum playing as the deepest midfielder.
Gini, the controller?
The most interesting experiment was Gini playing in the deepest midfielder role. This might be with one eye on the CL 2nd leg as Henderson is suspended and Can is still struggling with a back injury. Gini played in this position once in pre-season, and he came out successful this time around. He looked like the only player who seemed remotely interested in the game, looking to constantly open up the game for the Reds. His defensive cover was solid too, covering spaces to foil Everton’s attack.
Manchester City will be an altogether different test, but a strong away performance means he will go into the game on a good mindset.
Karius saves the blushes
One constant trend in recent seasons has been the profligacy of the attack, coupled with the generous nature of the defence. Hence, it was good to see Karius stepping up to the plate on the rare occasion he was called upon to make a save. His save was of the highest order, tipping away a goal-bound shot from Bolasie. Consistent game time does wonders for a goalkeeper, and it seems to be no different for Karius too.
Attack fails to shake off their rust
Ings and Solanke were handed rare starts, and the lack of game time showed as they struggled to create an impact during the game. Solanke was presented with a golden opportunity to score, which he exasperatingly shot straight at the keeper. Ings struggled to stay involved in the game on the right, often chasing shadows and lost causes.
This might be just one game, but clearly highlighted the lack of quality in attack.
The fine balance of minutes
The need to win every game from here, coupled with lack of bench strength meant that Klopp needed to finely balance game time.
Milner and Mane started again, though they are tipped to start mid-week too. Milner was taken off in the second half with Ox given game time. Firmino got few minutes at the expense of Mane.
This balance is needed to ensure Liverpool head to Etihad in the best shape and condition possible.