It’s here again: ‘Derby Day’ and, what with roads closed, new queuing at turnstile approaches, and the attire worn by the milling thousands of home fans, one could be forgiven for thinking we were extras in a blockbuster film. Two teams from the same city, yet poles apart in fan participation. The red fans always give me the feeling that their get-ups and flags and banners are more important than the game.
Thank goodness for kick off and what a rip-roaring first 10 minutes we had. Liverpool blitzed us, looking for an early breakthrough and plenty to hold on to... but, after our recent performances, the manager picked a team and set them out in a manner to have none of that. In that first 10 minutes, we had Barry booked within a minute, Howard sprawled full length to save crosses that were dangerous, as we defended both well and desperately.
The game then settled a little but still had its hairy moments as both teams attacked and both teams saw off goal threats. We had a spell of dominance but alas not one shot on target was fashioned. Both teams had creditable penalty appeals turned down, which was just as well for us as, if given, Barry would have been sent off; I have to say, his looked more of a pen than ours.
From the 30-min mark onwards, I thought the game became more even and exciting as both teams seemed to want the first goal yet without leaving the back door open. Sterling was ever dangerous for them and Hibbert was performing much better today and got a foot in or a block more than Sterling would have wanted.
It was Lukaku who had our first shot on target but straight at the keeper in a spell where we were playing the better stuff but without really getting into the box with real menace. Baines though did charge one down and race to the by-line and his attempted cross for a Lukaku tap in was foiled by a Liverpool defender getting a clearing block in.
Liverpool now had a spell of their own but, with Besic, McCarthy and Barry as a shield, our back four kicked and hacked clear on occasion and at other times played silky stuff out from the back – well it is a derby. Stones looked a different player at centre back than when played right back. I wonder if the England manager has noted this yet...
From one Liverpool attack, Howard was forced to make a very good block and Hibbert to complete the clearance. The ball was played forward for Mirallas to streak after and gain a slight advantage as he bore down on goal only to pull up sharply holding his thigh and rolling in agony. We all knew what that was and his comeback may be our Christmas present...
McGeady replaced him and his first involvement was to jink into the box, his cross finding the ever eager Naismith who was thwarted by a desperate lunge to clear the ball from a red shirt while a tap-in beckoned... "Fine margins," I thought — Have I picked that line up from listening to Martinez interviews? Liverpool go down the other end and a good cross eludes Balotelli in front of our goal.
The game now was a typical derby, all helter-skelter with some good stuff thrown in. Skrtel went down injured which gave both teams a drinks break and broke up play for both teams. Off we go again, a Liverpool corner is cleared, Baines hits a forty-yarder for Lukaku to run onto in the right side-channel but alas his control was a little heavy and he was robbed by a defender. With half-time looming, Barry carelessly gives the ball away to set up a Liverpool break that took a good blocking save from Howard to preserve parity. Two mins of added time and Besic heads back toward keeper and centre-back but you could see that communication took place so at least one lesson learned from Tuesday night as Howard gathered.
Half-Time: 0-0... a half that saw the Blues ride out an early storm and then make a game of it; Barry lucky still to be on the pitch. (Well done, Ref.) But injury to Mirallas put the dampeners on, a sickening blow.
We kicked off the second half and both teams have attacks in quick succession and then the game goes a bit scrappy until Stones makes a superb tackle on their best player Sterling; it was pure class and timing precise. The hour mark was reached in end-to-end fashion with both teams showing a desire to get an advantage but in doing so were cancelling each other out. Balotelli was being his usual self and, although the ref was up to his playacting, he did manage to buy a free-kick from a Baines non-tackle just outside the area. Gerrard took and scored and the word ‘Bastard’ was heard all across the away section.
It was a blow and showed itself among players and fans. I may be out of order here but, from my perch, I thought Howard was a bit slow getting over to what seemed a floater more than with pace. Sorry, Tim, if I got it wrong. It was hard to take and another clean sheet bites the dust. Just after that Balotelli hit the bar — heart in mouth time.
This took the wind out of our sails for a short while but we regrouped and started to have a go; one superb cross from Baines saw Lukaku almost but not quite get his head to. That would have been handy. Liverpool now started taking control and were content to spray passes about that were designed to take the running out of our legs and their fans were lapping that up. I dare not type what ours were responding with.
10mins to go and Hibbert, who had had a decent committed game, gave way to Browning, making his derby debut at an early age. He started well by outmuscling Sterling and bringing the ball away. Besic, who had been unspectacular whilst doing a great job of filling holes and moving the ball on whilst showing some self-restraint that had dogged his earlier contributions with its absence, was replaced by Eto’o who joined Lukaku and McGeady in the front three, while the excellent Naismith went to the head of a diamond as the rescue mission took place.
It was difficult getting the ball off Liverpool as they sprayed it about in keep-ball mode but, when we interrupted that flow, we pressed ahead. McGeady jinked in from the wing and hit a screamer that only troubled the corner flag. Then Eto’o fed the ever running Naismith who forced a corner but Baines didn’t clear the first man.
It seemed all over when the board went up with just 3 minutes shown but Browning was still at it with strength and pace as he reached the right corner flag and sent a cross deep across goal that was headed back into the danger area and was cleared by Liverpool some 22 yards where our captain and centre-back hit what can only be described as a ‘Screamer’. It hit the top corner with keeper helpless. I don’t remember much after that except that Anfield rocked in a manner that the media love to portray as the only ground and fans that can do that in the prem. Well, tonight, media men report it again – except this time tell ‘em it was the Blue half of Merseyside doin’ the rockin’.
Oh, just one more thing: right on the whistle, we get a free kick on the edge of the box right-hand side... could we? We held breath — Baines played it in low into a mass of bodies and the ball goes wide — Almost, Almost!
MotM – Naismith. With his intelligent running he opened up more opportunities than any other player, their team included.
Overall, a typical derby game one that I don’t think has any bearing on how the season might go for either team. This event only takes place twice a year and it is like no other. "Z-Cars" and "Allez-Allez Oh" was heard twixt Goodison and Anfield post match so I imagine most will be pleased with the point and shared bragging rights and you can bet that the Blue account will differ greatly from the Red account. Don’t yer just love em’?
Manchester via Russia next... so how will the manager deal with this? Plenty for us to mull over in the Room of Nonsense where I am sure that by 8:00pm tonight we can email Roberto with both events boxed off.
UP THE BLUES
Reader Comments (34)
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1 Posted 27/09/2014 at 21:22:25
2 Posted 27/09/2014 at 22:11:33
Avoided the match today as I suspected a mullering.
Playing players in their best positions (Stones and Hibbert) applies further upfield as well.
I'm just about to watch MoTD.
As Peter #1 says ...... the gobs on those kopites. Priceless.
3 Posted 27/09/2014 at 22:19:15
Certainly Stones and Jags seem to be the natural central pairing for the foreseeable future. I just hope we can take something away from the Manure game next week and I might start believing again.
4 Posted 28/09/2014 at 00:06:02
Gerrard was his usual magnanimous self in his post-match interview but no doubt the BBC will work on that in the next few months in preparation for his new role following his retirement shortly when the Shite fail to get out of their group in the "Champions League".
5 Posted 28/09/2014 at 00:51:57
Why don't we tackle players?
Why is Lukaku playing right wing?
When will Lukaku learn to control a ball or play a pass?
Why do we pass the ball around the opposition box instead of having a shot?
6 Posted 28/09/2014 at 01:56:29
7 Posted 28/09/2014 at 02:03:29
But they got a point they hardly deserved at Goodison last season.
8 Posted 28/09/2014 at 02:23:19
Why can we not take corners? May as well give a goal kick every time.
Stones was my MotM.
Liverpool missed an opportunity in not attacking more down our right hand side. I like Hibbert - but trying to track Sterling - really?
Not a great game but they seldom are.
Shame the ref fell for the 'foul' which led to their goal.
The form book DOES NOT go out the window in these games.
Derby passion?! Do me a favour. The modern game has stifled any tackling.
For those watching in Oz, Foxtel were still using last season's crest in the background during studio 'discussions'. Muppets.
Interesting to see the aerial view of the ground and see the demolition work.
We were average at best but we all feel SO better than the Reds.
9 Posted 28/09/2014 at 02:37:15
I am no fan of Andy Dunn but he is right when he questions whether either side have improved their squads on last season; Liverpool certainly havenÃ‚t. For all the talk of Sturridge missing, after 30 minutes of yesterdayÃ‚s game we had our first-choice wide-men, Barkley and the leagueÃ‚s best right back in Coleman all out. Under those circumstances, it wasnÃ‚t a bad result, but I still think it was an opportunity missed.
Liverpool are ordinary. I agree with most on here: Naismith, Stones and Jags played well. Besic much more disciplined, but again Barry was dreadful. When it required experienced heads to lead by example, Barry played like it was his first high pressured game, unable to cope.
Sadly I think Rooney not being available will assist Man Utd more than us next week, Van Gaal not having to accommodate so many forwards. Fingers crossed.
10 Posted 28/09/2014 at 02:44:05
Liverpool attacked him relentlessly; even flipped Lallana and Sterling so they would have arguably the quickest and certainly one of most media hyped players in the league running at him. Hibbert played his game and stood tall. Was he beaten on occasion? Sure, but the TEAM controlled the damage. Liverpool took shot after shot and he DID bend, but he DID NOT break.
This was a guy who was making his first PL start in over a year and maybe his third or fourth competitive start in that time - and in a derby at Anfield no less. I was scared to death, but Tony? He did okay. Very proud that he rose to the occasion, when he could have so easily fallen apart.
11 Posted 28/09/2014 at 03:05:28
A trip away to Russia and a good performance to consolidate our position on top of the group will do. Time for Atsu to take his game to the next level while KM is out. I'm pleased with how Besic performed and John Stones was immense. The season starts here.
12 Posted 28/09/2014 at 04:16:20
We Twebbers are lucky indeed to have such excellent scribes serving us. Win Lose or Draw I appreciate the effort of Ken, Paul T, Lyndon and Michael for such good reports.
13 Posted 28/09/2014 at 04:40:38
I think part of the negativity generally is that, in recent history, we've gone there when they've been piss-poor, and we were evens or favourites. And yet, time and time again, they raise their game, and we meekly surrender.
Today was good, the heads never dropped, and whilst you would expect them to dominate Ã‚â€“ we never gave up. I agree with you, I thought for their goal Ã‚â€“ it was saveable, unlike Jags at the death.
Agree with those who say that Rodgers is a classless fucker. They haven't pulled up any trees at Anfield this season, and were extremely fortunate to beat a Southampton side that is riding high. As well as losing to Villa again. They were a 1 man team with Suarez (supported by Sturridge, with Gerrard a largely spent force). Anyway, it's Everton and how we play next few games that will dominate my thoughts.ZZZzz
14 Posted 28/09/2014 at 04:50:44
I hope you get a run out in Russia.
15 Posted 28/09/2014 at 10:24:15
16 Posted 28/09/2014 at 11:50:51
Besic looked decent... Quick, strong of tackle and crisp of pass. Could be an interesting line up against the Russkies.
17 Posted 28/09/2014 at 11:38:35
I agreed with 99% of what you said, my 1% difference: Man of the Match I had John Stones.
● Why did we persist with Romelu Lukaku playing out wide in the second half when it was obviously not working, plus we needed a man in the center getting into the box?
● Why are we starting games sitting deep in our own half and playing aimless balls around the back?
● What has happened to our corners and set pieces?
Overall, derby day was saved for us by a brilliant bit of football skill from Jaqielka. Martinez has some work to do, does he have the football managerial skill to get us back on track? I hope so!
18 Posted 28/09/2014 at 12:06:14
My criticism would have been his naÃƒÂ¯ve attempts to run through their midfield on a couple of occasions in the second half. Embarrassing.
19 Posted 28/09/2014 at 11:53:17
I wondered last week whether Martinez had lost the players/plot. Yesterday proved that the players could dig out an improbable result and that a Martinez team can defend in an organised manner.
The other big issue was our chronic lack of pace and purpose going forward. This is something I expected to be sorted by now, yet everyone seemed to turn backwards the minute they got the ball. The only thing Liverpool had on us was their pace going forward Ã‚â€“ we looked pedestrian in comparison.
So, on my belief that last year's progress was based on a strong defence and hard to beat attitude, yesterday was one step in the right direction. Keep that up, pick up the pace throughout the team, and we'll edge up what is looking like a very average, evenly-matched league.
20 Posted 28/09/2014 at 15:05:55
21 Posted 28/09/2014 at 16:02:53
I'd say, for a change, we got the rub of the green in a derby at Anfield. No complaints here.... it could have been so much worse.
22 Posted 28/09/2014 at 16:59:50
If you'd told me we'd start Besic in a derby, bring Browning on and that Browning and Jags would combine (poetic license ...) for a goal like that, at Mordor of all places, I would have slapped myself.
Barry winning with a reverse flick, after having been lucky to stay on in the first 15 (and to be honest, several times after), it would have been more icing than the cake could support.
23 Posted 28/09/2014 at 23:40:12
24 Posted 29/09/2014 at 00:24:37
The attack seemed to lack ideas and skill but I can't fault their effort. Without the drive of Mirallas and Coleman, and the skilled link up play of Pienaar and Eto'o, we don't offer much of a threat but it's still early days. What a terrible blow for Mirallas. The lad was playing out of his skin and didn't deserve such bad luck. We wish him well. We also wish good health to Pienaar, Coleman, Oviedo and Kone. They can't be rushed of course but I suspect their return is not too far away.
25 Posted 29/09/2014 at 07:36:45
I have just read on BBC gossip that Wenger has ordered his team to practice corners, as they had 15 in their last game and produced just 1 chance.
Could Roberto please take this on board and follow suit?
A fair result in the end and an excellent cameo from Browning, hopefully a sign of things to come
26 Posted 29/09/2014 at 08:19:37
27 Posted 29/09/2014 at 10:25:37
It was an awful game of football and a few points that stood out for me where. McGeady is not a Prem standard footballer by a long chalk; Hibbo, god bless him, is finished as a Prem footballer; Lukaku, although played out of position, is not worth the thick end of 㿊 million; Stones is the future of our back line along with Browning; Sterling and Balotelli are cheating gobshites; and finally Jags is now officially a legend after that goal.
The jury is still out for me on Martinez, he needs to get some stability back in the team but Saturday went some way to restoring that.
28 Posted 29/09/2014 at 19:16:55
For a long time, I believed Howard had a problem with his concentration. Corners and free kicks always caught him napping as did long-range efforts, but I've looked a little closer this season. The guy can't move his feet.
We saw the best and the worst of Tim at Anfield, If his save from Lallana was good, the one from Balotelli was astonishing Ã‚â€“ I was right behind it. These are trade mark Howard saves, the reflex save. But it's when he has to move his feet he struggles.
If Howard had taken one step to his left before launching himself at Gerrard's free kick, he 'd have saved it comfortably. It wasn't a classic free kick inside the "postage stamp" Ã‚â€” it was two yards inside the post.
Unfortunately it seems like people like Gerrard and Lampard have been onto this for some time, it doesn't matter if the angle is too acute for a direct strike they will fizz it into his goalmouth knowing he will be rooted...
Decent hands, great shot stopper, excellent at one-on-ones, but Ã‚â€“ like a boxer who has everything except good feet Ã‚â€“ he'll always be found out
30 Posted 29/09/2014 at 20:02:13
Anyone remember Newcastle game a couple of seasons back when Demba Ba scored in the last minute? Howard was doing a star jump so Ba just stroked it under Howard's feet. Howard needs to know when to jump and when not to jump!
Oh and Gary Neville reckons Mignolet should have saved Jagielka's equaliser!!
31 Posted 30/09/2014 at 14:29:58
I had that usual sinking feeling when Gerrard stepped up to that free-kick and so it came to pass. A set-piece goal for them and then it's up to our boys to show some much-needed fight Ã‚â€“ and boy, did they! I was looking for changes earlier from the boss but clearly the Mirallas injury had interrupted his plans. When the changes came, I would've thought that Browning's would've been the more influential given the illustrious company he came on with.
I was watching the game on my Ipad in bed in a Southern California hotel from 4:30am. When Jags lashed that one in, the entirety of Floor 2 of that place was woken to the wild shrieks of a bollock-naked Irishman bouncing about like a loon!!! Oh how I savoured that goal all day long! Overall, I felt this was our "Chelsea" game from last season and can see us kick on from here.
Stones and Browning give great hope for the future and it was lovely to see Hibbo back playing, especially at their place, where they clearly saw him as a weak link. A win against the other Reds this weekend and we are open for business.
Oh Jags... you feckin' beauty!
32 Posted 30/09/2014 at 15:10:43
33 Posted 30/09/2014 at 15:56:42
Great shot stopper, poor decision-maker. Not good enough for me.
34 Posted 30/09/2014 at 16:16:04
My own take on things, having watching him over the seasons, is that he has a problem a lot of modern keepers have: they are scared of the posts.
In my opinion, he dived backwards on Saturday to avoid colliding with the post. If he dives sideways, he saves it but hits the post.
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