Merry Christmas Everton
Divock Origi’s comical late goal sent Anfield into raptures and meant that for the third time in the space of 12 months, Liverpool have beaten Everton with a late winner.
The game itself was intense, and to Everton’s credit, they put up a far greater fight than in previous years, turning the match into an end-to-end thriller. Ultimately though, the result was a fair one, even if the goal was extremely fortunate. The Reds had numerous chances to put the game to bed, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Everton had opportunities of their own, but all were snuffed out by Alisson.
The win will give the players and supporters a much-needed lift after a difficult week and will serve us well going into the busy Christmas period. Hopefully those positive feelings will translate into goals and points on the board.Embed from Getty Images
Alisson – (Man of the Match) 9
For the second game in a week, Alisson given his team the chance to come back and win when things could’ve turned ugly, but also been the man of the match. This is what a top ‘keeper looks like. This is what £60million looks like.
Alisson’s two biggest moments came from chances that he had no right to save. Theo Walcott, who’s lightning on his feet, attempted to round the Brazilian and shoot into an empty net, but Alisson managed to force Walcott into a bobble, and the opportunity was gone. He also made an incredible save to deny Andre Gomes when the latter thumped a header towards goal from close range.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5
It was the correct decision by Klopp to restore Trent to the starting lineup, not only for tactical reasons, but also because the influence of a local lad on the Merseyside Derby cannot be underestimated.
His use of the ball was usually effective, except for in dead-ball situations, he was extremely poor by his standards in that department. Reminiscent of Robbo and Mane’s understanding down the left flank, TAA and Shaqiri seemed to click well together in this game. A promising sign.
Joe Gomez – 7.5
Even though he wasn’t at his absolute best, Gomez still showed why he should always be first-choice as VVD’s partner from now on, not sharing the position with Lovren.
After Alisson’s wonder-save to deny Gomes, Joe got a foot in the way of the follow-up shot that would’ve certainly seen the Reds fall behind. It was a heroic moment and one that may have huge implications in this year’s title race.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
After his nightmare in Paris, VVD was better against Everton, but still not nearly as good as we expect of him. He was careless on the ball on occasions and was dragged out of position a couple of times, looking uncomfortable with Everton’s overlapping runs. He also appeared indecisive in some moments where he’d otherwise be swift in his judgement.
Overall though, he was decent, and for the most part, was able to deal with the significant threat that Everton posed, particularly through Richarlison. We’ll need him back at his best soon. Cracking assist for Origi’s goal though…
Andy Robertson – 7.5
It was business as usual for Robbo. Energetic, combative, effective. You always know what you’re getting from the Scot, and in the Derby, that was no different.
His overlapping runs down the left added another dimension to Liverpool’s attack, and he fully delivered on his defensive duties. You couldn’t ask for much more except for maybe some added potency to his final ball.Embed from Getty Images
Fabinho – 7
Hendo’s suspension opened the door for Fabinho to step up and stake his claim for more regular football. While he wasn’t excellent, he did enough to suggest that he should be afforded more opportunities, particularly in the upcoming schedul, even if he declined as the game went on.
He added a much-needed solidity and nastiness to the Liverpool midfield, which can be invaluable in games as intense as this one. He used his strength to great effect, regularly broke up play, and made some great tackles, but he’s still miles away from the player we hoped we were signing. There’s evidence of improvement though, so things bode well.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Many were calling for Klopp to give Naby Keita the chance to replace Gini, as the manager did for Fabinho as Hendo’s replacement. However, Klopp chose to stick with the Dutchman, and I think it’s the right decision, for now.
While Gini still wasn’t as good as he’d been earlier in the season, he had a solid game and played an important role throughout. His combination with Fabinho seemed to work well, and his work-rate was as high as ever. As is often the case with Gini, we just needed to see more.
Bobby Firmino – 3
Bobby’s not just out of form, he’s gradually getting worse. This is a real worry. It’s difficult to say what the cause is, as there are a number of explanations that all make sense singularly and collectively, such as his changed role, but that doesn’t explain his performance against PSG for example.
The cause can be debated, but the symptoms can’t. Poor passing and wayward shooting, and they were certainly on show against Everton. He’s still capable of a nice pass and a stinging shot, but they come far too infrequently, as most of the time he’s simply been gifting possession to the opposition.Embed from Getty Images
Xherdan Shaqiri – 6
Everybody said in the wake of the PSG game that Shaqiri should’ve started and must play against Everton. Well, Klopp listened to the latter part at least.
However, Shaq wasn’t able to make his Merseyside Derby debut one to remember, as he drifted in and out of the game. He also spurned a clear, and arguably easy, chance to score in the first half, which would’ve changed the direction of the game drastically. His passing most mostly good though, including one cross that nearly led to a goal.
Sadio Mane – 7
Mane’s still the only Reds attacker that even vaguely resembles himself from last season. Like everyone else, his finishing isn’t good enough at the moment, but he’s still creating chances for himself and others to at least a similar level to the last campaign.
He did so on three clear occasions in the match, once with a nice ball that just didn’t reach Salah, and twice for himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t hit the target either time and can look back with some bitterness that it wasn’t his name being chanted by the Liverpool supporters for another Merseyside Derby winning goal or assist.
Mo Salah – 6
Nowhere near as bad as Bobby, but Mo suffered from similar problems with his passing, and in particular, his shooting. Although, even with the disappearance of his bountiful finishing from last season, he still causes problems for the opposition with his pace and movement.
He missed a big chance in the second half and was eventually subbed off for Sturridge in a move that would’ve never happened last season if we still needed a goal.Embed from Getty Images
Naby Keita – (on for Shaqiri 71′) 5
Had enough time to make an impact, but simply didn’t.
Daniel Sturridge – (on for Salah 74′) 6
Didn’t do much more, but had some sharp touches.
Divock Origi – (on for Firmino 84′) 10
It’s a lovely story that the kid whose development was stunted after a horror tackle against Everton was the one to redeem himself and send them home miserable. He somehow missed from only a yard or two out minutes before, but who’ll remember that? He chased down a nothing ball and was rewarded with the winner. I’m very happy for him, and hopefully this’ll lead to a rejuvenation of the player we saw a couple of seasons ago, although I’m cautiously pessimistic on that notion.
Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno, and James Milner.
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Klopp got his team selection right regardless of some less than inspiring individual performances. It’s not Klopp’s fault that most of the team didn’t bring their shooting boots, because on another night, we could’ve won by 3 or 4. Having said that, we probably didn’t deserve anything greater than a narrow win.
Klopp still has to figure out how to get these players performing to the levels of last season. In the Summer, we were hoping for improvement, but now we’re praying just for signs of life from our midfield and attack. The defence is outstanding, and you can’t help but feel that if our attack was back to their best, we could be the best team in the league, if not, the world.
It was somewhat surprising to see Milner left on the bench and Firmino being the last to be subbed off despite his terrible display, but who am I to question the German when he clearly knew what was going to happen with Origi all along. Neutrals and rivals might see his celebration as being over-the-top and disrespectful, but who can honestly say they wouldn’t want a manager with that amount of passion for his club?Embed from Getty Images
Alisson’s a Keeper
Alisson’s been generally solid since his arrival in backing up a strong defensive line, but took another step in the fans’ minds this week. The only moments where his skills have come into question so far have been when he’s made some questionable decisions with the ball at his feet.
No one has argued that he’s not good at keeping the ball out of the back of the net though, and he’s even had to save his own skin after some wayward passes. However, these last two games in particular have shown exactly why we spent so much money on him, and how important having a truly world-class goalie is.
He doesn’t only keep us in games such as this one where he’s frequently called into action, often pulling off downright unbelievable saves, but more importantly when he’s had nothing to do. So many times in previous years have Liverpool been undone by a late goal when the opposition slots home out of nowhere. Alisson stays focused however, and his value the team can be measured equally in those sorts of matches to the Everton game.
Kinks in the System
The 4-2-3-1 system works, despite what many are suggesting. The results make that point very clear. What isn’t working is certain individuals within the system.
That’s not to say that it couldn’t be tweaked to better suit the players that are struggling, but to suggest that the poor form of the likes of Firmino is entirely down to the new system and his changed role within it, is simply wrong. Bobby’s played as a deep 10 plenty of times before, both at Liverpool and earlier in his career. He also dropped deep plenty of times last season when he was playing as a 9.
A ‘new’ role doesn’t suddenly effect your passing and shooting. So what can be done? In my opinion, we’re missing playmaker, and Salah should be removed from the striking position. If Nabil Fekir signed in the Summer, I believe that he’d be playing at 10, Salah would still be on the right, and Bobby would be up top. There’s nothing we can do about that now, although the closest we can get to that would be to show more faith in Shaq and play him at 10, or take a big gamble on hoping Keita springs into life if he plays there for a few games in a row.
No Sleep Till Burnley
So it begins. The exciting, but taxing Christmas period. Having played midweek against PSG and Everton yesterday, Liverpool now have only 3 days until the Burnley game.
This is a theme that’ll more or less continue up until the Manchester City clash in January. We as fans love having games every three days, but it’s undoubtedly detrimental to the players, and only City really have the squad depth to rotate their entire XI from game to game without sacrificing too much potency.
There’s not much that can be done about it unfortunately. Next season we’re supposed to be getting a Winter break of sorts, but until then, we’ll have to power through. One thing that Everton’s admirable performance has shown is that there’ll be no easy games during this time, so Klopp will have to rotate with great caution.
You’ll Never Walk Alone