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Everton v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective
Disappointingly this is a game that will not be remembered for the match itself, the brilliance of Thiago or Everton’s drive and desire to fight back twice after going behind. Instead it will be remembered for a number of terrible refereeing and VAR errors, which resulted in the wrong decisions on far too many occasions for a game with the amount of technology available to the officials. There are no excuses that can be given for the mistakes as they were blatantly incorrect and if they are unable to see these things then we have to question their fitness to be match officials.
Aside from that, it was a good match, marred by a long term injury suffered by Virgil van Dijk, between two teams that are more closely matched than they have been in recent years. In fact, in my opinion, there are only three things that are stopping Everton from having an 11 that are capable of challenging right at the top (though their lack of squad depth is a problem). One is central midfield, Andre Gomes is lacking the quality and mobility of a top class player, which was starkly shown up in comparison to Thiago Alcantara opposing him.
Their second issue is the pure laziness of James Rodriguez, which left them wide open all game to attacks down their right, particularly once Coleman went off injured. If he continues to saunter around doing nothing to help the team defensively, the opposition will figure them out and they will be in trouble. The final one is the obvious one, the goalkeeper, whose only saves were at the perfect height for a goalkeeper, rather than being truly great saves, because he is not capable of greatness.
Well organised and competitive, overly so at times but it was a derby and they have always had a tendency to devolve that way as the moment affects players, Everton are a totally different proposition from recent years. They have two-thirds of an excellent midfield, a goalscorer up top who is exceptional in the air and the creativity to find that goalscorer in dangerous areas. Unfortunately their defence is simply not up to scratch, only Digne looks good enough for the long term if they are going to become a regular Champions League team fixture.
In that arena they will find James will be well suited, with his ridiculous antics which nearly cost his team a goal at one point when he was writhing around on the floor in ‘agony’ despite barely being touched. His constant play-acting is simply embarrassing and his laziness is shocking. A couple of good passes over 90 minutes do not make up for his complete lack of effort. Teams will learn how to play him in the Prem and he will be a hindrance, as you cannot afford to carry someone in a normal league season.
They did have a lot of luck in terms of decisions going their way, a very dubious offside followed by a terrible bit of officiating to not send off Pickford for a clear red card offence changed the game just as they were under the cosh. It does seem odd that an assault is ignored and they profit from that but it is the way it is with the terrible state of refereeing in the English leagues. They took advantage of the psychological hit Liverpool took losing van Dijk and got themselves back into the game, showing a good mentality.
Then there was the last gasp goal being chalked off, for what was clearly a wrongly awarded offside that saved them from a defeat. Those are the kinds of things that have to go for you if you are to have a season better than you could have hoped for. Luck like that can lead to title challenges if they continue throughout the season. They do not quite yet have all the quality needed to sustain a title challenge without a fair chunk of luck, but you can see the building blocks are in place for a future one.
Klopp – a difficult game for Klopp. His team were beginning to establish control when hit by the van Dijk injury and that not only knocked Liverpool back mentally, it also lifted Everton and gave them belief. It was only bad decisions that stopped it being another win for the Reds, so it is difficult to fault his tactics or gameplan.
Adrian – struggling for confidence and it shows in his decision-making, which is all over the shop at the moment. He just needs to settle down and relax, while Liverpool fans need to stop expecting him to be a top class goalkeeper and remember he is just a back-up.
Alexander-Arnold – playing much more within himself than usual, but I think in this game it was a tactical choice to hold him back as there was so much space to attack Everton down the opposite flank. With him still coming back to full sharpness after an injury and no pre-season, the lack of time between matches to train properly is showing. He looks way off full sharpness and it is going to take longer than usual to get him up to speed as there is so much recovery after matches to be done. The team is barely getting to train together at the moment, unlike a normal season. It is going to be about patience each time a player picks up an injury this season, as they are all going to struggle to get back up to speed, without picking up more injuries.
Matip – surprisingly for him, as he is normally excellent in this aspect of the game, his passing was off and he was giving the ball away very cheaply. I think it was probably just rustiness, as he is (as always it seems) just coming back from an injury. Which will not be helped by him picking up another injury in this match. In the main he did not look too far off his best though, it was just his passing which let him down really.
van Dijk – according to a few Everton fans, he had been trying to end other players’ careers from the kick off and so reaped what he sowed when he was injured. However, I have watched it over and over, right up until his injury, and I saw nothing. There were 3 moments, which they seem to be referring to. The first he went into the back of James, nothing serious, nothing particularly different from anything any centre-back does, certainly nothing dangerous about it, though James’ reaction did suggest van Dijk had run him through with a pitch fork. The second was a collision, again with James, where van Dijk did turn his shoulder into it, as any intelligent player would do, to protect themselves. James was unable to do so, through no fault of his own, and the pair ran into each other. Something that happens all over the pitch many times a match. Again nothing serious, but James reacted as if Virgil had shanked him, then shot him and possibly stamped on him afterwards, judging by the screams, the rolling around etc. The final one was on Calvert-Lewin, which has been described as cutting him in half by one poster on the Everton site. Except all that happened is that van Dijk got tight to the Everton forward and then reached his leg around him and toed the ball away. The ref gave them all as free kicks, though Calvert-Lewin seemed as surprised as anyone to get the decision in his favour. I can only think those couple of Everton fans are so desperate to justify Pickford’s actions that they are deluding themselves in order to do so.
As for his performance, he was not on the pitch long enough to really judge him, though it did look like he was fired up. It is a big shame about the injury, but I think people are getting too carried away with it, there is no way Pickford has the intelligence to be sly enough to deliberately set out to injury Virgil. It was reckless and dangerous and a red, but no more than that. People need to move on and stop wasting their time on bitterness.
Robertson – once again he was excellent, absolutely marauding down the left flank using the space James cannot be bothered to track back into. I have to say that I think that Robertson has been Liverpool’s best player overall at the start of the season. Which makes it all the more galling that he should have been red carded for a kick out. That was silly and could have seen us in real trouble in that match.
Henderson – I do worry for what would have happened in this match if Henderson was not on the pitch when van Dijk went off. It clearly gave Everton such a lift, while knocking Liverpool for six, and they needed his leadership. Luckily he was there and he was able to help the team through it, then get them going again to retake the lead after Everton equalised. Then did it again when the Blues equalised a second time, driving the team on and even managed to score right at the end. Sadly it was disallowed for a non-existent offside but that is no fault of the player’s. Liverpool are a better side with Henderson in the middle.
Fabinho – a good game, though one aspect of his game, that creativity and pinpoint passing was a little subdued, probably due to Thiago being there to take over the mantle.
Thiago – if there was one game that I would have expected him to struggle in, it would have been this one, as the Derby is the match that gives players like him no time to breath, let alone create anything. Obviously no one told Thiago that, as he was on a completely different level from everyone else on the pitch. It was not just his brilliance on the ball either, it was his workrate, his tracking back and winning the ball back, his pressing and the way he could hold on to it under pressure. Sometimes you just have to applaud a performance and not even try to pick holes in it. This was definitely one of those times. Such a shame he got injured by a nasty tackle, which saw Richarlison quite rightly sent off. Thiago has almost done enough to pay off his transfer fee already and he has only played one and a half games!
Salah – a really good performance by Salah, put in some really hard yards working back covering, as well as causing so many problems up front. Took his goal really well too. His movement causes so many problems for defenders. Probably should have scored more though and did try to force a pass at times, when it was not on.
Firmino – desperately needs to score in a Liverpool shirt to get himself up and running. His link up play is there, the little flicks, the beautiful pieces of control, the twists and turns are all working, but he is trying far too hard when in the box. The header, in particular, showed a player that was being too careful, attempting to place the ball right in the corner, rather than just getting it on target.
Mane – did some really good things in this game, as well as opening the scoring. I do worry about his tendency to go down softly at time, it is something I do not like, though he is nowhere near as bad as some, it is still not needed. It must be so frustrating for him, I do get that, he gets kicked all over the pitch and does not get a foul because he stays on his feet. The answer to that problem is not to then go down under little challenge because you have lost the ball though. In fact that is more likely to make referees think twice about giving you genuine free-kicks!
Gomez – replaced the injured van Dijk in the 11th minute. Took a while to get up to speed on his weaker side, but did not do too bad overall. Perhaps could have done more on Calvert-Lewin’s headed goal, but as Calvert-Lewin is one of the few attackers that can consistently beat van Dijk in an aerial battle, I think it is probably harsh to blame him for that goal. Calvert-Lewin is probably the best around right now at getting on the end of crosses.
Jota – came on in the 78th minute in place of Firmino. His running causes the opposition lots of problems, but he does have a tendency to run into teammates too. Jota really needs to build up an understanding with the rest of the frontline, as it is happening every time that he is either tripping over one of the other forwards or they are tripping over him. He is exciting to watch though, has the look of the type of player who can become a fan favourite.
Wijnaldum – in the 90th+1 minute he came off the bench to replace Fabinho. Just did not have time to really make a mark on the game.
Written by Tris Burke October 23 2020 11:57:27