Everton welcomed their eternal rivals Liverpool to Goodison Park for a Merseyside derby at the business end of the season. The home side headed into this game having seemingly survived their early relegation worries, but they have been struggling in recent weeks. The Reds meanwhile have been flying and sat third in the table ahead of this clash, scoring goals for fun and tearing teams apart. These encounters are always intense affairs and this one promised to be no different.
Liverpool press for an early opener
Jurgen Klopp had made a whole host of changes from the team that dismantled Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek, with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino the notable absentees due to injury and being dropped to the bench respectively. The slightly weakened Reds didn’t lack their usual intensity in the early exchanges however and they pressed Everton furiously, trying to win the ball high up the pitch and launch a counter attack. It was the home side who settled into the lion’s share of possession in the first ten minutes and Theo Walcott in particular looked bright going forward.
The first decent chances of the game fell to Liverpool however, courtesy first of Georginio Wijnaldum and then Dominic Solanke. The former was set up nicely for shot on the edge of the box but skied his effort wildly over the bar. Solanke meanwhile connected with a close-range header after a good leap, but the striker watched the ball fly agonisingly wide of the post, squandering the best chance of the game. The England youngster had another brilliant opportunity just moments later after a scuffed Everton clearance, but Jordan Pickford made a superb reaction save to deny the Liverpool man from just a few yards out.
A cagey finish to the first half
Everton responded well to the visitors’ intense spell of pressure and looked a threat on the break themselves, especially with the pace of Walcott and Yannick Bolasie. The Congolese international almost curled in a stunner from the edge of the box after being teed up by Tom Davies, but the shot was met well by Loris Karius in the Liverpool net, whose fingertip save turned the ball round the post. The tempo of play from both sides was slower than perhaps would have been expected from a Merseyside derby, especially one involving a Jurgen Klopp team, and neither side seemed able to create much penetration.
Liverpool did manage a number of half chances however and James Milner was the next to go close, curling a shot towards the far corner from the left hand side of the box. Pickford was there once again to deny the visitors however, a positive sign for the England hopeful given that Gareth Southgate was in attendance at Goodison Park. The chances dried up in the final minutes before half time and the game became cagey, focused in the middle of the park as the conditions made fluid attacking football quite difficult. In the end it was little surprise that the teams went into the break level, stuck in a stalemate.
A low-quality start to the second period
The second half continued in much the same manner as the first had ended, with a relatively slow tempo of play and neither side seeming capable of taking a firm grip on the game. Liverpool’s new-look attacking trio struggled to create any real partnerships and it was the midfielders who looked to be having the biggest impact on the game. The Reds were camped inside the Everton half in the early minutes of the second period and Sam Allardyce’s men dropped off their opponents, allowing them far too much time on the ball.
For all their dominance after the break however Liverpool’s chances were few and far between and they did little to capitalise on some nervous defending by the Toffees. The likes of Danny Ings and Sadio Mane rarely saw the ball as Everton’s rear-guard action continued, but Nathanial Clyne was active down the right flank, delivering a number of crosses that sadly came to nothing. The visitors really seemed to be missing the talent of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as they looked toothless going forward, though Everton offered very little in an attacking sense either.
No time for a late Everton winner
The introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finally gave Liverpool the lift that they needed and his direct approach was exactly what the game had been crying out for. The former Arsenal man’s first contribution was a driving run towards the Evrton goal and a subsequent shot that flew just over the bar. It was a half chance, but one that sent alarm bells ringing through the Toffees midfield and back line. Roberto Firmino was also introduced as Jurgen Klopp pushed to win this game late on, but Everton actually responded with a good spell of pressure themselves.
Cenk Tosun came within inches of giving the home side an unlikely lead when he stretched to meet Leighton Baines’ driven cross, but the striker couldn’t quite get there in time and the chance went begging. To the surprise of many, Allardyce’s men dominated the final minutes of the game, pinning the Reds back into their own half. Again they went incredibly close to winning the game, this time through Seamus Coleman, but the fullback couldn’t connect with Tosun’s header back across goal. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was the last man in the queue to provide Everton with a winner, but the youngster’s curling effort flashed wildly wide. That was to be the final action of a disappointing derby and the teams left with a point apiece.
Everton will be patting themselves on the back for shutting out a Liverpool side that has been so destructive this season, even if many of their regular starters were missing. In truth the Toffees should have wont the game late one with a flurry of decent chances, but a point at this stage of the season will be sufficient for Sam Allardyce, and they will build on this result in the final weeks.
This was a disappointing result for Liverpool as they dominated much of the game, though they never looked at their attacking best without the likes of Salah. They did have one eye on the second leg of their Champions League clash with Manchester City however, so this point will be good enough for Klopp’s men going forward.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Rooney (Gueye, 57’), Schneiderlin, Davies (Baningime, 80’), Walcott, Tosun, Bolasie (Calvert-Lewin, 61’)
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Van Dijk, Klavan, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 68’), Ings (Alexander-Arnold, 89’), Solanke, Mane (Firmino, 74’)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Everton: Pickford 8, Coleman 6.5, Jagielka 6.5, Keane 6, Baines 6, Rooney 5.5 (Gueye n/a), Schneiderlin 6, Davies 6 (Baningime n/a), Walcott 5.5, Tosun 6, Bolasie 5 (Calvert-Lewin n/a)
Liverpool: Karius 7.5, Clyne 6.5, Lovren 6.5, Van Dijk 7, Klavan 6, Wijnaldum 7, Henderson 6, Milner 7 (Oxlade-Chamberlain n/a), Ings 6 (Alexander-Arnold n/a), Solanke 5, Mane 6 (Firmino n/a)
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