WHENEVER Liverpool play Everton home or away, they are usually the most captivating, classic and controversial of games and on Saturday lunchtime this was another rollercoaster of a game that will live long in the memory of both sets of supporters.
Brendan Rodgers left Daniel Sturridge on the bench, while handing Joe Allen his first league start since March and both Simon Mignolet and Jon Flanagan made their derby debuts.
As for Everton, Ross Barclay replaced Leon Osman who took his place on the bench.
Coutinho opens the scoring for the Reds
Everton had the better of the early exchanges but on 5 minutes that all changed when Liverpool were awarded a corner and Gerrard whipped it into the six-yard box. Suarez flicked it on with his head to Coutinho who was level with the right-hand post six yards out – he chested the ball down, then flicked it into the net.
Kevin Mirallas made it 1-1 three minutes later after Baines played in the free kick from the right hand side, and he, like Coutinho, was unmarked and made no mistake in putting it in to the net.
Suarez nets his 60th goal to make it 2-1
On 19 minutes Suarez sent the away support into celebration once more after netting his 60th goal wearing the Red of Liverpool. Luis scored a wonderful free kick; he set the ball out miles to the right, curling it round the wall, and back in. Absolute quality.
Lukaku did what he does best when he plays against Liverpool and that was scoring, not once but twice to turn the game on its head. Firstly he scored from 10 ten yards after a strong sidefoot finish, then with 8 minutes to go he met a corner and from eight yards with a bullet header in to the top left corner.
However that was not the end of the story…
Super sub Sturridge grabs last minute equaliser
Moses won a free kick on the right after been fouled by Distin. Gerrard crossed the ball into the area and Sturridge, who was level with the right-hand post on the edge of the six-yard box, flicked a stunning header into the top left corner – cue crazy celebrations from the away support (me included) who thought from being 2-1 ahead to 3-2 down all had been lost.
I must admit it was a game of very few passes, let alone accurate ones from both sides; all six goals were scored from set pieces – either directly or in the second phase of play. It was certainly an open game with chances at either end. Typically high pressing, frantic, and less about the patient and calculated passing philosophies both managers usually look to impose on their sides.
Referee Phil Dowd sadly made the wrong decision in not sending Kevin Mirallis off – it was a high and dangerous tackle. Now if Suarez had done the same, he would have been hounded out of the club for being disgraceful.
Credit were it is due, I must single out Mignolet for his performance on Saturday. I am first to get on his back but that is only because he has a lot of work to do to get to the class of Pepe Reina – cue the backlash. However Simon made NINE saves in the match compared to Tim Howard’s two. Mignolet has saved 51/64 shots on target so far this season and even created one scoring opportunity on Saturday.
Also Jon Flanagan should get a mention, he put his difficult performance against Arsenal behind him and played a blinder on Saturday lunch time at left-back. Normally Johnson moves to left back to accommodate the youngster in his natural position. Flanagan did a brilliant job in keeping Mirallas quiet in open play.
As you can see from the diagram above he did his defensive work with great aplomb, he won 8/9 tackles – 89% Jon also made 4 interceptions. His performance will give him confidence his best in a Liverpool shirt.
A few people again at the end of the game were calling for Steven Gerrard to be rested or substituted during the match citing that he was at fault for the first equaliser and his passing wasn’t up to scratch. Yes, okay he was out of position and maybe should have done better in trying to stop Mirallas. However like I mentioned in my analysis of the Fulham win there is no one better than Gerrard in crossing the ball and like I said the 6 goals were scored from set plays. Who took most of our set pieces? Steven Gerrard.
Now Rafa once said that small details decide games and Joe Allen had one of those moments if and he should of buried the chance in to the open goal – 3-1 more or less game over. Again his performance was indifferent didn’t really offer anything in the midfield. One option would have been to play Kolo in the sweeper role to try and stop Barclay and in the second half particularly Deulofeu, running through our midfield freely and not one of our midfielders trying to put in a challenge.
Two concerns I have at present is the fact we cannot hold on to a lead (2-1 up at Newcastle and at Everton) so the coaching team need to focus on this especially as we have difficult games at Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea on the horizon. Also it is not for the first time this season that our midfield is getting overrun particularly in the second half, I am not the only person who thinks this Times journalist Tony Barrett alluded to it after the final whistle. This needs to be looked at quickly.
– Only Sturridge and Suarez (3 each) have scored a second half goal for LFC this season.
– It was only the 2nd time in the last 94 league meetings that Everton scored more than twice against Liverpool.
– LFC had taken 84 points in Brendan Rodgers’ first 49 league games in charge.
– Brendan Rodgers’ 50th league game in charge = 85 pts in that time. Based on 3 pts for win, that’s the same points as Bob Paisley in his 50.
– In his first 50 games Bob Paisley gained 85 pts. Bill Shankly 92, Joe Fagan 90, Dalglish (1st) 102, Souness 76, Evans 78, Houllier 82, Benitez 80, Dalglish (2nd) 76.
– LFC allowing 5.3 shots on target per game this season vs 3.7 in 12-13.
– EFC had 12 shots on target yesterday, which is the most LFC have conceded in the 202 PL games since the start of 2008/09 (via @EPLIndex).
– Luis Suarez was the only player to create two clear-cut chances.
– Saturday saw Liverpool’s highest scoring draw in the league since the 4-4 with Arsenal in 2008/09.
– Brendan Rodgers has now equalled Dalglish Mk II’s 85 point haul in the Premier League, but in 6 fewer games.
– LFC have now scored every 37 mins when Sturridge and Suárez on the pitch at the same time.
– LFC have 4 points more than they got from the same fixtures last season, and have taken 70 from their last 38 matches.
– Sturridge now has 22 goals and 5 assists in 30 Liverpool appearances.
– Steven Gerrard is joint top of the assists table in the Premier League with 5 (1 from open-play, 4 from set-plays). Mirallas has 5 also.
Finally, a derby the way it should be passionate, full of excitement, nail-biting finish and most importantly goals.
Next up for Liverpool is another away day this time Steve Bruce’s Hull City who will be out to get a result after losing at home to Crystal Palace over the weekend.
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