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Venue: Anfield, Liverpool
Premier League
 Tuesday, 28 January 2014; 8:00pm
4 0
Gerrard (21'), Sturridge (33', 35')
Suarez (50')
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 44,450
Fixture 23
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Match Report

The wait and the pain go on. By the time the Anfield derby rolls around next season, Everton will be in their longest sequence without a win on Liverpool's home turf in the history of the Merseyside derby.

The majority of that miserable sequence of six draws and, now, eight defeats came under under David Moyes's tenure, one characterised by routine failure on the grounds of the old "Sky Four" and responsible for the 3-0 drubbing meted out the Blues by the reds two years ago, a match Evertonians had hoped would be the nadir of what is now 15 years without a win in this particular fixture.

Ironically a bit of Moyes-style emphasis on a deeper-lying defence combined with the more enterprising style introduced under Martinez further forward might have stood Everton in good stead in this match and probably avoided the hammering meted out to them by a Liverpool side who struggled to earn a point against Aston Villa in their last Premier League home game.

The 4-0 scoreline by which Roberto Martinez's side was thrashed this evening was misleading and yet simultaneously illustrative of the gulf in attacking financial muscle and, by logical extension, quality that exists between these two clubs. The talk coming into this most important of derbies it was being regarded, prematurely, by some as a playoff for the Champions League was of the strength of Everton's defensive unit in comparison to the relative weakness of Liverpool's.

And Blues fans were no doubt buoyed by the fact that far from having to field a patched-up and untried central defensive partnership of the green John Stones and want-away veteran John Heitinga, Martinez was able to play Captain Phil Jagielka with Antolin Alcaraz, a pairing that, based on their respective displays this season, held promise but which was ruthlessly exploited tonight by Brendan Rodgers' much-vaunted strike duo of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.

Both forwards scored indeed, Sturridge could and should have had a hat-trick in what would have been an unfathomable 5-0 victory but, mercifully, he blazed over from the penalty spot in the second half and they could have had more; Everton, for their part and the tireless Kevin Mirallas in particular can count themselves unfortunate not to have earned some consolation in the second half but they can have few complaints about the result. Ultimately, having been put to the sword by almost 40m worth of goalscoring talent and then losing Romelu Lukaku to injury, perhaps for weeks it seems, the Blues were relying on a free-transfer acquisition from Rangers and a generally laboured attacking unit to achieve the impossible.

Martinez employed what was, in hindsight, a massively ill-advised high defensive line using two unfit defenders against two pacey strikers and the vision of Coutinho in the reds' midfield. Though the opening goal a travesty in its own right, given how Gareth Barry, who had arguably his worst game for the Blues so far, lost Steven Gerrard and then crocked Lukaku when he slipped desperately trying to retrieve the situation and fell on the Belgian's ankle came from a routine 21st-minute corner, it was the two quickfire goals that followed that effectively killed the game where Rodgers' gameplan ripped the Blues' defence to shreds.

Coutinho was able to expolit the yawning gap behind Stones who, having been drawn into the space down the Everton right, was caught badly out of position, where he picked out Sturridge's run and he unerringly beat Tim Howard in a one-on-one situation.

The warning wasn't heeded for the second goal, either. Jagielka and, in particular, Alcaraz were caught embarrassingly flat-footed as Kolo Toure knocked a ball over the top where Sturridge was able to capitalise on Howard's dash into no-man's land by hooking it over him and into the empty net.

And that Everton's slew of half-fit players aside really was the difference on the night, one very reminiscent of the mugging that Martinez effected on Moyes as Wigan boss in last season's FA Cup quarter final: Everton were on the ropes before they knew what had hit them and they were singularly unable to claw their way back into the match in the second half.

It wasn't for the want of trying, though, and the statistics showing Everton's 61% of possession and 18 shots to Liverpool's 20 bear out just how harsh the scoreline was on the Blues' performance as a whole. Indeed, they had started in decent enough fashion, thanks to the return of Ross Barkley and some crisp, confident passing in midfield. They more or less matched their hosts in that midfield battle but where the Blues' defence was positioned closer to the halfway line, Rodgers's defence held a deeper line and prevented Martinez's men from finding any space behind them.

There were ominous portents of what was to come early on, though, as Liverpool, looking by far the sharper side in the final third, fashioned some good chances and Tim Howard had to beat away a volley by Jordan Henderson, turn a Luis Suarez shot behind and deny Raheem Sterling superbly after the winger had been put in behind the Everton defence by Coutinho.

Mirallas was the only player in Blue who looked likely to carve out an opening that didn't rely on a shot from distance Barkley had one 25-yard effort that fizzed just over in the first minute but otherwise found a red shirt in the way of almost every effort on goal he attempted and it was his jinking run that set up a chance of Jagielka that Simon Mignolet had to parry to safety and the Belgian's shot that grazed the post a couple of minutes later as he skipped his way inside his marker. Had either chance gone in, it might have been a different game but Liverpool's second and third goals arrived within minutes and ended the contest 10 minutes before the halfway stage.

If there was even a hope of staging a dramatic comeback and ending the Anfield derby with the same 3-3 scoreline as the reverse fixture two months ago, it died five minutes after the restart when Jagielka's attempted pass to Alcaraz was picked off by Suarez who raced the rest of the way to goal with the two less-than-fit defenders trailing in his wake before doing the inevitable and slotting under Howard to make it 4-0.

Again, it was rough on Everton who had improved markedly with the introduction of Leon Osman for Steven Pienaar who, the first few minutes aside, was pretty abysmal and were looking a good bet to make a game of it in the second half. Indeed, it was from the corner conceded by Mignolet as he denied Osman's excellent shot that Suarez scored. Barkley would have a shot pushed behind, James McCarthy was similarly denied by the 'keeper and the latter's neat footwork almost provided an opening for Naismith but the ball flew too far in front of the Scot. It just wasn't Everton's night and it was pretty sickening to watch it play out.

In the final reckoning, this wasn't a game decided by psychology, of a defeatist attitude or the conscious decision to rest players with one eye on a cup tie. This was about the cruel realities of Everton's situation that persist under the new management so close to cracking that glass ceiling but destined to fall short without significant investment in the kind of match-winning talent that Liverpool have at their disposal. It's no accident that the 50m triumvirate of Coutinho, Sturridge and Suarez was the difference in this match against a team that has, too often, struggled for crucial goals and for comparable tempo in the final third for much of the season.

Goals win games and for all the positivity that Martinez has brought to Goodison since last summer, he hasn't put sufficient premium on the power of a lethal strike-force. Finishing the month with just Lacina Traore when he had two forwards to replace was always going to be a gamble and what this result brings into stark relief now is the choice confronting Martinez and his Chairman as the transfer deadline looms. Persist with the apparent wait-and-see approach whereby much of the powder accumulated from sales of Fellaini, Anichebe and Jelavic is kept dry until the summer; or invest now in an attempt to keep up the charge for a top-four place? The injury to Lukaku will almost certainly prompt one move before Friday but will the boat be pushed out further?

Certainly, one result does not spell the end for what has been an impressive season. It is, after all, only the third loss the Blues have suffered all season but if there were doubts that this squad could maintain the level needed to secure a place in the top four in its current form, they were surely confirmed tonight. Stick, or twist...?

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

Everton should have been boosted by the return to the starting XI of Ross Barkley, Steven Pienaar and Antolin Alcaraz for tonight's Merseyside derby at Anfield. John Stones deputised at right back for Seamus Coleman but new signing Lacina Traor did not make the squad due to a slight hamstring injury.

Everton kicked off, showing some determination to keep possession, Barkley setting a fantastic tone with a fabulous shot off a great pass from Mirallas. the ball searing just above the angle with Mignolet beaten. But Liverpool then got forward, Henderson lashing a shot at Howard, forcing a good parry by the American keeper.

Pienaar went down and needed treatment for a head injury, the reply showing a Liverpool player climbing all over him. A drag back by Sterling on Jagielka allowed Saurez to shoot, Howard pushing the ball behind for a corner, that was defended away. Everton's attack broke down when Baines was restrained and Suarez was released but Stones anticipated him brilliantly. Sturridge was next to shoot but without power as Liverpool threatened to take early command,

Everton were trying to build with good possession and passing until the final ball given away very cheaply as Liverpool snapped at every ball. Alcaraz wasted a forward ball, overhit. It seemed that The Blues had resisted Liverpool's early pressure, but Suarez got anther shot in on target that Howard saved. Stones got forward down the Everton right, the ball falling to Pienaar but his strike was poor and blocked away. Gerrard tried one fr long range as the pendulum swung back and forth, Everton gaining more of a foothold but unable to create a real threat on the Liverpool goal.

Somehow Sterling got in behind Alcaraz and Howard came out to make another vital stop. Barry was called for foul on Sturridge as the game threatened to explode at any moment... Liverpool tried to pass their way to goal, Suarez earning a corner, fired in superbly and Gerrad billeted home a near post header that was unstoppable as it flashed past McCarthy on the line. Lukaku was somehow injured in the play, and he was stretched off, as the game threatened to go away from the Blues with Naismith the enforced change.

Another probing Everton attack stalled, Gerrard determinedly blocking Barkley, who wanted a fraction too long to wind up his shot, and another sweeping Liverpool attack saw Sturridge curl another shot fractionally over the angle. Everton won their first corner on the half, Mirallas curling it too deep for everyone Mirallas got the ball in to Barry who's stretching shot forced a good save from Mignolet, finally a Blues shot on goal.

Mirallas took things into his own hands, a gret run, one-two and shot, just wide of Mignolet's far post. But at the other end, Sturridge played in by Coutinho, given far too much space, shooting with ease past Howard to make it 2-0, and unfortunatley fully deserved as the Reds threatened to overrun their Blue neighbours who just could not get their game going, McCarthy fouled Suarez and the ball overthe top to Sturridfe a superb finish under pressure from Howard outside his area, alopong the ball inside teh far post. Three nil, Everton on a hiding.

Pienaar was finally booked, but for dissent, as the rain poured down, and a wide Everton free-kick fired in, coming to nothing. Mirallas tried to power his way in and won another corner but the header lacked power, winning another corner from the left by Baines, headed away, Some fun between Sterling and McCarthy, Howard joining in on the afters.

Another somewhat laboured build-up won another corner from the crowd of red shirts, the Blues applying a little bit of pressure but joined-up play was as at a premium as they always faced a mass of bodies between them and the ball, whereas Liverpool seemed able to break into acres of space almost at will.

Barkley tried to dig out another shot, blocked again, then Barry finally went in the book for his tenth poor foul to bring to an end a horrible horrible half for Everton, who had tried to play their passing game, but were no match for the far superior desire shown by their obnoxious opponents.

Osman replaced Pienaar at the break probably to prevent a second yellow card, if he was not injured. Continuous Blues pressure from the off, earning a corner, but the quality from Baines not good enough. Still, the Blues tried and tried, Osman selling a dummy for Osman to curl in a great shot. But a loose ball by Jagielka for Suaraz, a free run on in Howard, and an easy finish for four-nil. Absolutely shocking.

Then more acres of space for Sturridge, looking offsside on a soft through ball, played it beyond Howard, whose bodyt blocked the forward; penalty (but no red card), lashed laughably over the bar by an over-confident Sturridge... Whatever next! A wicked free-kick powered in by Gerrard, defended behind by Alcaraz, as Everton kept out a fifth.

Osman won a dangerous free-kick that Mirallas smacked into the wall, summing up Everton's miserable night of hope cruelly dashed.

Barry, on a yellow, was annoyed that Gerrard was not booked for a cynical foul on Mirallas, saw Atkinson lecture Jagielka about Barry's dissent. Everton tried to play their game when in possession, but the build-up was always way too slow although McCarthy did get a low shot in that forced a save at least, But then Sturridge again wide open in on the Everton goal, and Stones doing well to finally contain him.

Mirallas was keeping Everton alive as McGeady replaced Barkley, and he worked the ball in for McCarthy who's perfect low centre was inches from conversion by Naismith sliding in.

Liverpool relaxed a little leaving Everton to play out the half, pride heavily bruised by a stunning encounter that was meant to expose defensive weaknesses in the Liverpool back line....

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton and Liverpool go head to head at Anfield on Tuesday night with a mere point separating two sides who look set to battle it out with Manchester United and Tottenham for the fourth Champions League slot this season.

There may be 16 games still to go but the six-point gap that has opened up between fourth place and the Premier League's top three has an ominous look about it, particularly given Manchester City's inability to stop scoring, Arsenal's refusal to suffer a lapse in form and Chelsea's strength and depth allowing them to retain their lofty position despite the odd stumble.

The Blue and red halves of Liverpool have gone into this game in close proximity in the table before in recent seasons but not since the 2004-05 season has an all-Mersey clash in the League had so much riding on it. Nine years ago, the Blues had a healthy lead over the old enemy coming into the Anfield derby and ended up finishing fourth despite losing 2-1.

This time, the talk is all about momentum – how much could Roberto Martinez's side gain from a first Everton win on this ground since 1999, particularly if they can manage it despite a catalogue of injuries that will severely test the Spaniard's squad.

It's quite infuriating, actually, given how impressively the Blues were doing before long-term injuries to Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson were compounded by a hamstring tear for Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley's fractured metatarsal, a series of niggling soft tissue complaints afflicting Seamus Coleman, Steven Pienaar, Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka, and Bryan Oviedo's double leg break on Saturday,

It's possible that Martinez will be missing almost an entire team's worth of talent for one of the most important matches of the season, although it is being suggested that Barkley could provide a boost by being passed fit enough to be risked less than four weeks after picking up his injury in the FA Cup win over QPR.

The 20 year-old's presence was sorely missed in a lacklustre second half at West Brom eight days ago and his manager admits it would be a calculated risk to bring him back ahead of schedule with Gerard Deulofeu due to return for the Tottenham trip next weekend.

Brendan Rogers has been bleating about his own injury problems but they pale in comparison to Martinez who could be down the bare bones in defence where Seamus Coleman is ruled out, Jagielka, Distin and Antolin Alcaraz are doubts and the Blues may be forced to field John Stones and John Heitinga as an emergency partnership in the centre, with Tony Hibbert continuing at right back.

Jagielka was withdrawn at half time against Stevenage on Saturday and at the time Martinez indicated it was a precaution so there is hope that the captain will be fit. Distin, it would appear, is more doubtful and though Alcaraz was expected to miss a fortnight with muscle fatigue and that period has passed, there seems to be yet more mystery surrounding the Paraguayan's condition.

In midfield, Pienaar could make it after missing two games with a groin niggle and he too would be a welcome sight. His inclusion would likely make it a straight choice on the other flank between Aiden McGeady and Steven Naismith given the fact that Romelu Lukaku is expected to return to lead the line ahead of the in-form Kevin Mirallas.

New loan signing Lacina Traore will be assessed late to see if he is fit enough to play any part but it will almost certainly be from the substitute's bench.

Martinez has once again emphasised the need to go to Anfield with a positive attitude and with the expectation that Everton can beat anyone on their day. You would have to feel that his team's chances would be compromised somewhat, though, if he was forced to field a makeshift defensive unit, particularly against the free-scoring duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. In that instance, the Blues' gameplan might shift more towards containment than would otherwise be the case.

Of course, the adrenaline-fuelled atmosphere of the derby can help any team rise to the occasion and Everton are going to need some big performances from their marquee players in order to arrest this barren 14½-year run at Anfield. Victory really would provide a big shot in arm after two middling League performances away from home and it would also see the Blues leap back above Liverpool and enhance the prospects of finishing fourth.

Lyndon Lloyd

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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  Flanagan (73' Kelly)
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  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Barry booked:45'
  Pienaar booked:33' (46' Osman)
  Barkley (76' McGeady)
  Mirallas booked:51'
  Lukaku (25' Naismith)
  Subs not used
  Traore (unfit)
  Coleman (injured)
  Deulofeu (injured)
  Distin (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Gibson (injured)
  Kone (injured)
  Duffy (loan)
  Hope (loan)
  Junior (loan)
  Kennedy (loan)

Premier League Scores
C Palace 1 - 0 Hull City
Liverpool 4 - 0 Everton
Man United 2 - 0 Cardiff
Norwich 0 - 0 Newcastle
So'hampton 2 - 2 Arsenal
Swansea 2 - 0 Fulham
Aston Villa 4 - 3 West Brom
Chelsea 0 - 0 West Ham
Sunderland 1 - 0 Stoke
Tottenham 1 - 5 Man City

Team Pts
1 Manchester City 53
2 Arsenal 52
3 Chelsea 50
4 Liverpool 46
5 Tottenham Hotspur 43
6 Everton 42
7 Manchester United 40
8 Newcastle United 37
9 Southampton 32
10 Aston Villa 27
11 Swansea City 24
12 Norwich City 24
13 Hull City 23
14 Crystal Palace 23
15 West Bromwich Albion 22
16 Stoke City 22
17 Sunderland 21
18 West Ham United 19
19 Fulham 19
20 Cardiff City 18

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