THE 219th Merseyside Derby produced a lot of positives for the Reds, which I had discussed in the previous instalment.
However, as we all know, positivity and negativity always coexist, nothing is perfect. Just as much there were a lot of positives to be taken, there were negatives as well, which should also be considered so that the same issues are not repeated again.
This match saw everything, from the Reds taking a well deserved 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes to squandering it inside the next fifteen minutes. For Liverpool, it was a disappointing end to the match which could have gone to the Anfield outfit had the linesman got his call correct. It was an exciting match nonetheless.
Positives discussed, now it’s time to focus on the negatives and here they are.
Let me start off with the biggest setback of the match. Suarez got the Reds off to a flying start, when his shot was deflected into his own net by Leighton Baines and the by heading a wonderful Steven Gerrard free-kick. A best possible start for Brendan Rodgers, in his first derby as the coach of Liverpool FC.
In the build-up to this match, the Reds had completed a hat-trick of clean sheets in all competitions and the defence looked to have picked up from where they left it off last season. I was not expecting a clean sheet in this match but a 2-0 lead should have signalled another three points—but the Reds let it slip after they allowed Everton to comeback and level the score within 15 minutes.
This season, so far Liverpool’s defence has been below par, far from the solid unit they were last season. A lot of good work done by the attack has often been undone by individual errors or collective errors at the back.
For the first goal, let me start off with Brad Jones’s clearance, he awkwardly punched the ball onto an arriving Leon Osman, who fired it through a crowded penalty area. Joe Allen was one of the many players in a red shairt who could have done better to block the ball in its path, but he chose to just let the ball go past him.
In the equalizing goal, just as much Enrique was guilty of his slack marking, Martin Skrtel also could have done a better job in dealing with Fellaini’s cross. However he chose to watch the ball instead of putting in a leg to stop it from sailing to Steven Naismith’s foot. It is a wholly different issue that Skrtel would not have been in that situation had the referee got his decision right (to award Everton a throw-in when it should have been awarded to Liverpool).
Still, that doesn’t warrant Liverpool’s ineffective and blatantly absent-minded defending in the scheme of events. Though they were pretty solid for the rest of the match, but mistakes likes these need to be reduced. Looks like plenty of work left to done for Rodgers and his defensive unit.
Big Matches, No Problem – But The Derby Proved Just A Bit Too Much For The Youngsters
Brendan Rodgers once again fielded three teenagers in one of the most demanding games. The Merseyside derby might have lost its sheen in recent years, but for the club involved it is still one of the harshest atmospheres in football. Unsurprisingly, each had his problems and none had a good game.
Andre Wisdom, in fairness, started this game out of necessity. Injuries to Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly meant that Wisdom started alongside Jose Enrique as full back. He had a torrid time in dealing with Kevin Mirallas, who gave the youngster great problems in the first half. He moved a bit forward in the second half, but still was taken off in the 70th minute by Rodgers.
Suso and Raheem Sterling, both automatic selection in the starting XI did not do much either. Suso, barely got into the game in the first half and was taken off at halftime. Sterling, though he was the only one to remain on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes, still did not convince much on his derby debut. He found it hard to deal with Leighton Baines and moved to the left, where he did not perform any better either.
Overall, Rodgers’ teenagers seemed a bit overawed by and not really up for the occasion—a problem Rodgers will have to deal with in big games going forward.
Joe Allen Disappointed On His Derby Debut, So Did Sahin
Marouane Fellaini’s return meant that Liverpool’s defence and midfield would be handed a tough task of neutralizing his effect on the game. The task was handed to someone who was almost half his size, the little Welshman Joe Allen, who was never going to win any aerial duels with Fellaini. However not just the aerial balls but Fellaini’s relentless haggling and physical near-bullying seemed just a bit too much for Allen to handle.
He had been covering for the injured Lucas and did pretty well in the previous games, this time however Allen was far from convincing and did not look like anyway near to what he was about a week or two ago.
Nuri Sahin, the other midfielder, who has impressed everyone after every start, was quiet and did not have any effect on the game. Apart from few good touches, he was an anonymous figure on the pitch and deserved to be taken off at the half time. Maybe the atmosphere just did not let him settle to his game.
Linesman Denied The Reds Of A Rightful Win
Last but not the least, it could have been a fairytale ending to the match that lived up to its billing. The Reds had a poor first half and a slight improvement was made in the second half, going by how the match progressed if anyone deserved to win, it was Everton.
The Reds however left it late, to add more drama to the tale. A perfect free-kick curled in by Captain Steven Gerrard, which was brought down by Sebastian Coates to the path of Luis Suarez, who slotted the ball home with a neat finish. Nothing was wrong in delivery, the lay-off, or the finish and it looked like Reds had done enough to take home all the three points. The linesman however chose to spoil the Reds party by raising the offside flag and denying them of a rightful win.
Thanks a lot for reading. Comments and suggestions are always welcomed. You can also find me on Twitter @LEONGUI7E