EVERTON 0-0 LIVERPOOL
The 236th Merseyside derby was probably the strangest derby these two famous clubs have ever played out. The whole occasion had a surreal feel to it. Everton entered the pitch out of the tunnel to the tune of Z-cars but there was no familiar roar, Liverpool entered the pitch from the Park End corner of the stadium.
The team news was a full Premier League debut for Everton’s Anthony Gordon whilst Liverpool replaced the injured Andy Robertson with James Milner, and Mohammed Salah was only fit enough for the bench.
The game itself almost got off to an explosive start in the 3rd minute when a misplaced header by Fabinho set Richarlison away, he raced into the penalty area but he flashed his left foot shot across Allison and beyond the far post. It was a warning to Liverpool regarding the threat that Everton carried.
It was Liverpool however, that controlled the possession but frustratingly for them they found Carlo Ancelotti’s men well organised in two banks of four. At times the pace of the game dipped as did the quality, hardly surprising given the 3 month break. There was still that competitiveness though demonstrated after a cynical foul by Milner on Richarlison which saw some heated exchanges between some of the players, notably Mason Holgate and Jurgen Klopp who exchanged a few words.
Ten minutes later Klopp had to make his first substitution when Milner limped off with an injury to be replaced by Joe Gomez.
Liverpool had opportunities through a Joel Matip header, he should have done better than tamely head well wide from a good position. Liverpool’s only other real chance came after Andre Gomes had dawdled in possession and Liverpool stole the ball. They worked the counter-attack to Roberto Firmino, still without a derby goal, but he dragged his shot comfortably wide of Jordan Pickford’s left-hand post.
The second half began with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing the very quiet Minamino and Liverpool taking more control of the game. They looked more confident than their opponents as they stroked the ball around but found it difficult to create any real opportunities.
They did create one however, and it was a lovely bit of football. Naby Keita clipped a ball into Firmino who chested it back to Keita, who had charged into the box, but his volley finished up well wide of Pickford’s goal.
Klopp introduced Divock Origi and George Wynaldum as Liverpool looked to gain a more cutting edge to their attack. Maybe the one surprise was that Salah was left sitting in the Family Enclosure rather than being summoned onto the pitch. However, prior to this game Origi had 5 goals in 7 games against Everton so he clearly enjoys this fixture.
Everton made their own substitution when they brought on Gylfi Sigurdsson to replace derby debutant Anthony Gordon after an hour.
Everton continued to defend brilliantly and in Seamus Coleman they had someone who epitomised their spirit. Up against the brilliant Sadio Mane he never gave an inch, so much so that Mane dropped deeper and deeper trying to get into the game. Everton also had Mason Holgate who was exceptional but in truth the whole back four and goalkeeper Pickford played well.
Liverpool made a final enforced change when Matip had to be replaced with what looked like a foot injury picked up having fouled Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Dejan Lovren replaced Matip, it also meant that Salah would not be introduced into the game.
Everton were excellent on the counter-attack as the game wore on, and looked the team most likely to win it in the final 15 minutes.
Firstly, Richarlison blazed over after being brilliantly played in by Calvert-Lewin’s clip over the top. Everton then had the opportunity of the game to wrap the points up. Richarlison broke down the left and played a ball across to Calvert-Lewin, he cleverly back-heeled an effort on goal but Allison made a brilliant save. The ball broke out to the onrushing Tom Davies who drove his effort against the inside and out, via a Gomez deflection, and Van Dyke put it behind for a corner. It was a heartbreaking moment for the 21-year-old scouser.
From the resulting corner, Holgate flicked on and Calvert-Lewin threw himself at the ball but headed wide as Liverpool were rocking. Everton then had another opportunity when Richarlison went past Lovren and then dummied him again to create a shooting opportunity. Had Richarlison looked up he may have passed to Iwobi, but instead he drilled a shot goalwards which Allison palmed away to safety.
Liverpool had one final opportunity when Fabinho’s free kick forced a good save from Jordan Pickford.
Final Score: Everton 0-0 Liverpool
How They Lined Up: