Everton 0-1 LIVERPOOL
The Merseyside derby ends with an away win for Liverpool!
Jurgen Klopp had announced Mignolet would be starting for this fixture days in advance of the official starting 11 lineup being released, but it was still good to see him at the top of the list. He had to work hard to stop Everton from scoring and just kept his 2nd consecutive clean sheet in a row. That’s what I like to see.
Joel Matip currently wouldn’t be risked as Klopp says he’s not at full fitness and playing him could possibly aggrevate his minor injury.
As you would expect to see from a Merseyside derby, there was a rough style of play going on, though the referee wasn’t afraid to pull his yellow card out and warn people. There wouldn’t be any red cards, even when Ross Barkley slid in with a crunching tackle on Jordan Henderson which looked pretty serious. Barkley apparently apologised to Hendo after the game about it since they’re England international teammates.
Liverpool would put as much pressure on Everton as they could in the first half but it nobody could find the net before the break. Both defences and goalkeepers were tested but stayed strong to not concede early in the game. Even Everton had potential goalscorers like Romelu Lukaku but Klavan and Mignolet were key players who put a stop to his dangerous attacks throughout the game.
Shortly after the break, James Milner would power over a cross to Firmino and though Stekelenburg would stop the Brazilian it would lead to a couple of follow up shots by Mané and Clyne which were rather dangerous. Liverpool controlled possession of the ball and continued to find themselves in around Everton’s penalty area with opportunities to score.
Though Coutinho is currently out of the side due to injury, Firmino may have been watching his Brazilian teammate closely as he attempted something acrobatic which has been seen from Coutinho before. It wouldn’t find the net but the Reds fans still seemed to appreciate his efforts against our rivals.
As time went on and on and Liverpool were looking more and more likely to get a goalless draw, the game got faster and more intense. Liverpool’s place in the league meant a single point wouldn’t have pushed us up the table after Manchester City recently beat Arsenal to go above them and Liverpool. The urgency to gain all three points was increasing.
Henderson would say after the game “It’s the [Merseyside] derby, we weren’t thinking about our league positions – just to make sure we beat our rivals”.
Beat them we would, though it would happen very late in the game. The lead up to it had some significant events.
Firstly, around 80 minutes substitutions were made by Klopp. Origi came off, Sturridge came on. Lallana was also replaced by Emre Can but the most significant change by far was having Sturridge on the pitch.
Secondly, the match officials who decide how much extra time needs to be played announced that 8 minutes would be added to the end of the 2nd half. Normally, you wouldn’t see that kind of extra time unless Liverpool were playing at Old Trafford and Man United were given their usual home advantage. This extra time didn’t seem to be a home side advantage to Everton and their manager Ronald Koeman would say “The 8 minutes killed us” after the game.
Around the 94th minute, Liverpool pushed hard down the right wing. Sturridge had the ball and started moving into a more central position, you could tell he was positioning himself for a shot. He had a couple of options for passing the ball to a teammate but as he rushed further and further towards the edge of the penalty area it was pretty obvious he wanted to try his luck against the goalkeeper. Everton’s goalkeeper would be beaten by his shot. He’d dived but failed to get his hand to it, though Sturridge only managed to hit the right post. It was the rebound that fell to Mané which gave Liverpool a chance to push the ball into the now open net (goalkeeper was still down on the pitch after attempting to save Sturridge’s shot). Sturridge didn’t score, but he certainly does deserve a lot of credit for being a major part of the leadup to Mané being able to tap in the match winning goal.
Sturridge is a “big impact player” as I like to call him. I love the guy but he’s known for being quite injury prone and can spend some time on the substitution bench shortly from when he’s gotten back to full fitness. During the time he’s too hurt to play, our other strikers will have their chances to prove what they can do and Origi is shaping up well enough to make the starting 11 right now. Sturridge wouldn’t get right back into the starting lineup even at full fitness. So his only chance to impress our fans and manager are the short times he’s given upon replacing his teammates.
It’s when he’s brought off the bench for a short while that we start to see the impact Sturridge can have on a game and he’ll assist or score a goal, changing what looked like a potential draw or defeat into a win for Liverpool. Without Sturridge, we’d probably have had a goalless draw and just a single point claimed from Everton. It was his original shot that led to Manés goal. Credit where it’s due, his name isn’t on the scoresheet but he deserves a lot of praise for his contributions. Well done, Daniel.
Man of the Match
Mané is really becoming a player we can trust and count on for peak performances. Assists and goals, he’s contributing well with both this season and the fans are growing to love him more and more with each game he plays in. Though Sturridge was a major part of the build up to his goal, Mané himself had to be right there in a dangerous position, available for making the final touch which would be goalbound. Without Mané in the right place at the right time, the Sturridge shot which hit the post would have come back to an Everton defender, even if their goalkeeper was down on the pitch. That didn’t happen because Mané was right there for the finisher when we needed him and Liverpool got to celebrate winning the Merseyside derby, one of the biggest events in football history.
So, Liverpool are only 6 points behind 1st placed Chelsea and we are due to play them at Anfield on January 31st. That could bring the difference to 3 points if we win and there’s no telling who Chelsea might drop points to before that fixture happens. So, the Premier League title race is still on. It’s not over until someone is holding the trophy above their heads.
Well, Christmas is next. Just after that though, we’ll have a Premier League fixture against Stoke.
I hope you all enjoyed watching as we beat our bitter blue rivals at their own ground. I did. I’ll see you all again after Christmas. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.