The Merseyside derby has thrown up its share of late drama over the years and it's almost always at Everton’s expense.
Gary McAllister’s 90th-minute free kick in 2001; Graham Poll’s gutless decision to disallow Don Hutchison a last-minute winner in 2000; Andy Carroll’s late winner in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final; Virgil van Dijk’s winner in the same competition earlier this year; Daniel Sturridge stealing two points away in Roberto Martinez’s first derby; Sadio Mané in the Goodison derby two years ago… the list goes on.
Only Phil Jagielka’s stoppage time bolt from the Blue at Anfield and the Dan Gosling winner in extra time at Goodison in that FA Cup replay have really favoured Everton in terms of at-the-death mayhem; generally, it’s been a tale of all-too-frequent misery for the Blues in the games we are increasingly desperate to win given how depressingly lop-sided this fixture has become in since 2010. Unfortunately, a combination of misjudgement and tragic-comic bad luck means that Jordan Pickford's name will go down in derby folklore for all the wrong reasons this afternoon in the most "Everton" way possible.
Is there some innate, resolute quality that reds sides are infused with that the Blues need to find or does it speak to the fact that, over time, the quality that our closest rivals are able to acquire because of their massively superior resources is bound to be reflected in the results? Or is it simply the pact with Satan that we Blues love to joke that Liverpool made some time in the 1970s? Whatever it is, Everton need to discover some of it or this derby torment is going to continue.
The good news is that while it wasn’t reflected in the result at Anfield today, the Toffees are making significant progress under Marco Silva and they were desperately unlucky to lose. In the last edition of his fixture in January, the visitors under Sam Allardyce mustered a pathetic 29% of the possession and scored with their only shot on target all game, a penalty converted by Wayne Rooney.
This time, Everton set their stall out early and really should have been 2-1 up at half-time. Yerry Mina showed the first evidence of his renowned threat from set-pieces when he got on the end of a third-minute free kick but bounced a free header wide when he really should have scored.
And André Gomes must have felt like he had opened his Blues account with 20 minutes gone but was foiled by a combination of goalkeeper Allison Becker and Joe Gomez. Theo Walcott had headed Bernard’s lofted cross back inside the six-yard box where Gomes stooped to head in from close range but Becker made himself big to make the block, the ball bounced back off Gomes towards the net but Gomez intervened as it was crossing the line to prod it to safety.
Richarlison had a couple of exciting bursts through the reds’ defence but overran the ball in one instance and was tackled as he shot in another while Walcott looked to be in later in the first half but Becker got a hand to the ball as the winger tried to take it round him and it bobbled behind for a goal kick.
The tragedy of the final result was that Klopps’s side were there for the taking if Everton had just been able to get their act together long enough going forward after the interval. In a pattern established on the trips to the Emirates, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, though, they let themselves down with a poor second-half performance that failed to match the promise and enterprise of the first.
Seamus Coleman had one promising but rare run behind Andrew Robertson but elected to cut the ball back rather than fizz it across the face of goal and found only a red shirt. Bernard then engineered space for a shot from 20 yards out but failed to get any curl on the effort and it drifted wide.
That shortage of clear chances for Silva’s men in the second 45 minutes was indicative of a drop-off in their collective performance going forward even if they continued to look strong enough at the back. After an excellent performance when he was arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half, Gomes was a little disappointing after half-time. Bernard was often dangerous, tricky and incisive but slipped over and took the wrong decision in other moments and while there was a feeling that on balance he had done enough to warrant his initial selection, he probably should have made way for Dominic Calvert-Lewin 10 minutes earlier than he did and that is, perhaps, a knock on the manager. Idrissa Gueye, so imperious in his last two outings, was similarly profligate with the ball, while neither Gylfi Sigurdsson nor Walcott ever really got into the game.
On the other side of the ball, for all the acknowledgement from the Blue side of Merseyside before the game about this being Liverpool’s best team for a generation, for the most part Everton made them look pretty ordinary. Everton found another way to lose a derby rather than the reds winning it on their own merits.
Mohamed Salah had a sight of goal and whipped a shot just wide early in the second half but he was largely kept quiet until he was substituted in favour of Daniel Sturridge with about 20 minutes left. Roberto Firmino was pretty ineffective as well after he had had Liverpool’s first genuine effort on goal in the 19th minute when he curled off target having turned Idrissa Gueye in the box.
Apart from a couple of moments from Xherdan Shaqiri, the best of which was foiled by Pickford who came off his line to divert the Swiss forward’s shot past his post after Gueye had given the ball away in midfield, Sadio Mané was the home team’s most dangerous player after a quiet first half.
The Senegal international had a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock following an error by Michael Keane in the 55th minute but side-footed wide and he had another “sighter” a few minutes later that also missed from around 20 minutes.
Those chances early in the second period signalled a more dominant Liverpool after half time but they failed to cause Pickford or the Blues’ defence many problems until the last few minutes when Divock Origi slammed a shot off the crossbar and then that last-gasp calamity gifted the Belgian the winner… as about as sickening a way to lose a game as there is.
There will be plenty of hand-wringing, analysis, condemnation and frustration over what was going through Pickford’s head in that incident six minutes into stoppage time with the match heading to a goalless conclusion. Virgil van Dijk had skied a clearance from a free kick back into Everton’s six-yard box and it looked to be dropping just over the crossbar. Rather than push it over to be safe, Pickford tried to catch it a foot above his bar, his arms hit the woodwork, the ball bounced off his gloves and, cruelly, onto the face of the bar before dropping to Origi, the only player following it up, to gratefully nod it over the line.
The reality is that the same psychology and eccentricity that makes Pickford as great as he is 95% of the time — so good at anticipating situations and making outrageous saves — is also what lies behind the 5% of what some will regard as ill-judgement that can cost him so dearly. While he learns — and he will — from these errors as he matures, Evertonians will have to accept the downs with the ups, the sublime with the ridiculous (unless or until his manager decides it’s not worth it) as a trade-off for having a goalkeeper who, on his day, is among the best in the world.
For supporters who have become so accustomed to heartache at the hands of our local rivals and who must endure the taunts and gloating from reds fans until the next derby, this was another agonising result… although in some ways it was the failure to win and end this interminable winless sequence at Anfield rather than the all-too-familiar taste of defeat that hurts the most.
In the context of Everton’s season, however, having failed to deliver on the promise of their first-half display, this merely represents a point lost, albeit in horrible circumstances. Successive home games against a struggling Newcastle and erratic Watford represent quick opportunities to pick up points to consolidate the Blues’ position in sixth place.
The need for more quality up front, where Richarlison appears wholly at home as a striker at Goodison Park but has struggled to consistently make an impact away from home, remains a priority in the January window on this evidence. This game also highlighted that while the expectation of being able to beat the so-called “big six” sides in their own back yard has been heightened, it is still too early in Silva’s reign for it to be a truly attainable.
There is no question that, having gone from coming to places like Anfield and surrendering possession like they did under Allardyce to coming looking to not only attack but to win, Everton have made great strides under their new manager in just a few short months. Our days in the derby will come; fingers crossed they start in March… God knows we’re due.
Marco Silva choose an unchanged side for today's Merseyside derby at Anfield. And they played really well, missing two glorious chances in the first half... only to give Liverpool all three points on 96 minutes with the most astounding goalkeeping howler by Jordan Pickford.
No start for Ademola Lookman, who was on the bench with Tosun, Calvert-Lewin, and Tom Davies.
Both Bernard and Walcott have been lacking in end-product, while Richarlison absolutely needs to take even the slightest half-chances that come his way.
Everton got things going and attacked down the right where Pickford came out and made a poor clearance giving away a very early corner that was defended away.
Everton mounted an attack that saw Bernard fouled by Alexander-Arnold. Sigurdsson faked, then Digne whipped in a brilliant shot that Mina headed wide when it seemed easier to score! A terrible miss from the big man.
A series of giveaways almost let Liverpool in, Alexander-Arnold's cross blocked out for another Liverpool corner that Keane headed clear. Bernard got a chance to run at Liverpool but just fell over with the ball.
Shaqiri chipped a clever ball over to Salah but Digne did enough to put him off. Liverpool were surging forward with urgency whenever the got the ball, and another cross in went harmlessly behind. Mane got through on a bouncing ball after another turnover, but lashed his shot over.
Another Liverpool attack over the top and Coleman defends it very well, Salah miskicking his shot with some hilarity but Pickford equally fluffing his clearance straight out for a throw.
Everton were struggling to get out of their half, until Richarlison, with a rare touch, was fouled but no advantage as the Reds forced yet another turnover with their relentless pressing. But Richarlison had a great run, exchanging with Bernard into the area but stumbled at the crucial moment and fell, as he does so often.
Another Red swarm, Salah in to Firminho who drove his shot wide. Mane then deliberately handballed to control it, but, of course, no yellow card.
A fantastic Everton move saw Bernard cross to Walcott whose perfect header back to Gomes saw in incredibly head it straight at Allison with the goal gaping — the rebound off Gomes bobbling in... but it was cleared off the line by Liverpool by Gomez.
Everton had weathered the early storm and had two brilliant chances squandered. Gomes was in his element, toying with Alexander-Arnold down the Everton left, as Everton started to play some really nice football, winning a corner. Somehow, Walcott got himself offside.
Bernard got hounded by Alexander-Arnold to give away a corner played deep and eventually defended away, a brilliant Keane header to deny Van Dijk. Firminho fired a curly in that Pickford gratefully grasped.
Everton had another fantastic chance with Sigurdsson playing in Richarlison who again failed to deliver, allowing Alexander-Arnold to get his toe on the ball and deny him a decent shot.
Gomes was fouled by the snapping dogs, Everon doing a little better to make space but also conceding a lot of space. More turnovers and mistakes from both side, Shaqirir clipped Bernard and saw the first yellow.
From the Everton free-kick, Shaqiri then got free somehow with only Pickford to beat but he did very well to save with his thigh. At the other end, a fantastic chance for Everton again from a tremendous ball by Sigurdsson, the ball through to Walcott but his first touch allowed Allison to get his hand to the ball at the Everton player's feet.
Pickford came out quickly to deal with a long ball and Richarlison was fouled again but not given, as Liverpool pushed Everton back deep. Another clearance to Richarlison who again went to ground so easily under the slightest opposition presence behind him. Everton now pressed inside the Liverpool half and forced a turnover but Gana spoilt it by passing behind Walcott.
Coleman had to shadow the ball back to Pickford with Salah snapping at his heels. Richarlison dispossessed Gomez and looked to Bernard who slipped and the ball was turnover yet again. A Liverpool free-kick wide on the Everton left was headed away by Digne.
Gomes did brilliantly to beat his man on the right wing this time and cross just 2 feet in front of Walcott... and Allison gathered, bringing to an end a very good first half with two guilt-edged chances for Everton that were painfully squandered.
No changes at the break. Walcott had a good run into a cul-de-sac. At the other end, Salah saw space and curled a shot wide of Pickford's post. Two poor passes from Gomes, saw a very dangerous Liverpool attack, Gueye stopping Salah from shooting, but Liverpool getting a corner that needed more stout Everton defending.
From an Everton clearance, the ball was back at Mane's feet behind everyone in no time but he passes the ball wide of the near post. Wijnaldum caught Walcott on his heel, as Everton's passing forward was lacking the required successful completion rate, with the tempo slowing compared to the frantic first half.
Shaqiri had a couple of bites of the cherry, both blocked on the 18-yard line. Richarlison fouled from behind but no yellow card given. Liverpool were having most of the possession, however, Everton standing off a little, Mane again firing wide.
Bernard and Rich looked to combine down the left but Richarlison's pass was too far ahead, but the ball was rotated across to the other side where Walcott got a shot off at Allison. Salah was correctly flagged offside as Lookman readied himself on the sidelne, as Richarlison claims slap in the face. Walcott came off.
Gomes and Richarlison advanced but too slowly to confound the home side, with Lookman wide open, and the ball was worked back to Pickford. Coleman did well to get forward but his cutback was not quite good enough.
Lookman went on a fantastic run, playing in Bernard who shot wide instead of curling it into the top corner. Crucial defending in the Everton area saw Liverpool denied again. Everton tried to build patiently with some better passing until Digne's cross was headed clear. Gomez fouled Richarlison yet again but Digne's free-kick was headed clear by a blue shirt.
Keita replaced Shaquiri, as the Anfield crowd started to get a little antsy that their Reds had not yet scored, Everton defence being tested and passing with fair marks. Salah tried to get a foul, feeling Gomes's arm on his neck. Everton structured an attack, Lookman almost beating three men, as Salah went off for Sturridge.
Brilliant back-tracking by Richarlison won the ball and ran at Liverpool only to be cut down by Firminho for his efforts. Sigurdsson got a shot away but it hit a defender, as Everton pushed forward with increasing confidence.
Everton had some considered possession but were unable to create anything, finally giving the ball away. Richarlison was dragged back by Gomez: yellow card. A great free-kick from Digne? but defended away, no-one close to it, and Liverpool countered, Firminho shooting across goal.
Lookman looked to dribble again but played his pass straight to Van Dijk. A Liverpool free-kick was headed behind by Mina. From the corner, Alexander-Arnold could not beat the first Everton defender, but the recycled ball was crossed by Sturridge.
Everton were penned back but eventually clear the ball, Gomes finding Bernard but Everton slow on the build and finally giving up the ball for a fearsome counter, Origi coming so close to beating Mina, and another cor corner, with Origi hitting the post from 1 yard. Gomes was booked in the follow-up.
Calvert-Lewin replaced Bernard for the final minute. Richarlson almost get s loose but Lookman has to back-pedal. Sigurdsson gets booked then subbed by Zouma, Everton content with a point; Liverpool not so much with 4 minutes added. Gueye picked up an injury and needed treatment. Handbags at two paces between Richarlison and Gomez.
A late free-kick, and it was volleyed high into the air for Pickford to collect but he fluffed it horribly, pawing it back into play onto the bar and then Origi's head and into the Everton net, with all the Everton defenders standing back. A horrible horrible misjudgement by Pickford — why did he not let it hit the bar and go out? Game over.
To add insult to injury, Klopp galloped out of his technical area to hug Alisson and leap around like a clown. But no punishment for him, that is certain.
So Everton were really going to win this? Not with utterly stupid misjudgement like that from our wonderful England goalkeeper. A shocking, shocking error.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez [81'], Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri [Y:33'] (71' Keita), Salah (75' Sturridge), Mane, Firmino [Y'76'] (84' Origi).
Subs not Used: Mignolet, Matip, Moreno, Milner.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson (90+1' Zouma), Bernard (89' Calvert-Lewin), Walcott (63' Lookman), Richarlison.
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Baines Tosun, Davies.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Like a dreaded bi-annual visit to the dentist, the Merseyside derby rolls around again this weekend and, once again, assessment of Everton's preparedness and ability to finally end a miserable winless sequence against the arch enemy from across the Park is, for those who aren't trying to ignore that it's happening, top of mind.
If we were talking about the fact that the Blues haven't beaten Liverpool in any game since 2010, that would be bad enough but, of course, the bigger, more painful statistic is the 18-game sequence since Kevin Campbell's solitary goal secured the last win for an Everton side at Anfield back in 1999. Ordinarily, the law of averages would dictate that the wait has got to end at some point but up against the best Liverpool side in a generation, we're not operating on as level a playing field as it was, say, a decade ago when the Blues were briefly but arguably the stronger team.
With the approach of each derby, especially since the painful 2012 FA Cup semi-final, Evertonians have pored over the psychological aspects of that miserable run of results against the reds, lamented the gulf in resources and the disparity in quality between the two sides, and steeled themselves for continued disappointment in this fixture.
Plenty of us will do so again but, unlike last season when Everton went into the game with the additional handicap to their self-esteem of having Sam Allardyce in their dugout, this time the Blues will go with a measure of optimism that we can give a good account of ourselves. Things have changed enormously over the past few months.
Almost a year ago, Everton arrived at Anfield with a back four containing Ashley Williams and Cuco Martina and a two-man attack featuring Oumar Niasse, they ceded a staggering 79% of the ball to their hosts, and yet somehow came away with a point. If you're looking for a platform from which the new Marco Silva edition Everton can go one better, they don't come much lower.
Allardyce may have fielded two strikers in last December's derby but the emphasis was clearly on suffocating Jürgen Klopp's much-vaunted attack and he largely succeeded, albeit at the expense of any attacking endeavour save for the penalty that Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned when he was felled by Dejan Lovren as he chased down Wayne Rooney's ball over the top. Rooney converted the penalty and, as they would do again in the reverse fixture in April, Everton avoided defeat without ever having looked likely to win the game.
Everton approach this year's Anfield derby in a very different mindset and there are reasons for cautious optimism thanks to the new manager, the summer recruitment he conducted with Marcel Brands, and the improving form that has seen the Toffees rise to sixth place in the table thanks to a run of just one defeat in the last seven Premier League games.
There will, no doubt, be a buzz around Finch Farm as Sunday draws near but, with Rooney gone, from Everton's perspective, this will be about as far removed from the typical local grudge match as it's ever been and that should work in their favour. This will almost certainly be the first derby not to feature a local-born player in Everton's line-up since 2015 and if neither Leighton Baines nor Tom Davies appear off the bench, I'm reliably informed by the club's own statistician, Gavin Buckland, that it will be the first time that no scouser represent the Blues against Liverpool since 1934.
Perhaps the best thing Silva and his men can do is treat this like any other game in the top six; to rise above the blood, thunder and potential red mist in a way that the former No.10 from Croxteth wasn't able to do even at the age of 32 and all that experience under his belt. Rooney was booked just seven minutes into the FA Cup tie between the two clubs in January, his rashness against Joe Gomez a diminishing vestige of how these local grudge matches would go.
Indeed, as Jordan Pickford said this week, the fresh blood in Everton's ranks could be a blessing, particularly in view of the mental block that has plagued the Blues against Liverpool over the past decade or so.
“Some new signings have come in,” the goalkeeper said. “We're playing really well, they're flying all the new signings. They will go into the derby not knowing what to expect really. So that will be positive for us and we have the experienced lads to help as well.”
Silva, meanwhile, has offered assurances that Everton won't be changing the way they go about Sunday's game just because it's a derby. He will know that a Toffees side hasn't won at Anfield in 19 years but the Portuguese wants to make sure that fear is not a factor for his players.
“Here we have one way — to think game-by-game, to prepare our team in the best way and for us, that next match is a derby,” he said in his pre-match press conference today.
“I want the players to play to win. For sure it will be a really tough match but I want my players to have big motivation. It is a fantastic game to play and our fans will be there with us.
“The players have to play and enjoy the moment. What I don't want is a word like ‘fear' in our dressing room. We respect all of our opponents but we don't change anything in terms of our ambition, our way.
"Words like ‘fear' do not come into our dressing room. We have to be strong in all the moments in the match to win it but that is all that's in our minds.
“What I want is to see our team be ourselves. Nothing different from what we did in the big games we played already.
“I am sure that is what our fans want to see as well, us being ourselves and fighting to achieve a good result. It is a special game for our fans, but we want to be the same team — playing to win the match, being strong, enjoying the occasion and having big ambition behind us.”
Far better, then, for the Blues to take a calm, measured and cultured approach epitomised by the likes of André Gomes and Michael Keane and leave the frenzied kick-everything-that-moves strategy that has been the default to the opening exchanges of derby clashes over the years.
That's not to say, it won't competitive. The atmosphere generated by the respective supporters will surely see to it that there is an edge to the contest but Everton need to play Silva's game and, again, utilise the injection of talent into the ranks that means they come to Anfield with a spring in their step and the knowledge that in the likes of Richarlison, Gomes, Gylfi Sigurdsson (a man who loves scoring at Anfield), Lucas Digne and Pickford, they have the talent to match their opponents in plenty of areas of the field.
Silva's line-up will make interesting viewing, whatever he decides. An unchanged team for the third match running would certainly make a statement about his faith in the players who have been consistently selected in recent weeks and back up his assertion that he won't be treating Liverpool differently than any other team. That would seem to preclude any surprise change in formation to, say, a five-man defence as that would arguably be a response to the firepower at Klopp's disposal rather than Everton's ability to continue their good run of form at the back.
Alterations to personnel, meanwhile, would, perhaps, be a reflection of the fact that a couple of players have not been at their most effective over the last few matches while others — well, one specifically: Ademola Lookman — have made a strong case for a start with their impact off the bench.
Lookman, in particular, has shown an energy and determination to prove he is deserving of a place the line-up from kick-off but Silva may err on the side of experience and continuity for this particular match and, perhaps, try resting one of Theo Walcott or Bernard in next week's game home against Newcastle.
Whatever team Silva goes with, the away games at Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea demonstrated that this Everton wide under their new boss is not afraid to take the game to superior opposition on their own turf. That should ensure that the Blues are competitive rather than submissive or merely combative, as has been the case in too many derbies over the years.
Whether it results in the end of this miserable winless run at Anfield remains to be seen but pride, spirit, enterprise, entertainment and at least a draw will hopefully be the minimum the travelling Evertonians can expect.
Kick-off: 4.15pm, Sunday 2 December, 2018
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Last Time: Liverpool 1 - 1 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Walcott, Richarlison