Liverpool’s Late Shows Have Taken A Wrong Turn
Phil Jagielka’s stunning strike was the third last gasp goal that Liverpool had conceded in their last three games at Anfield, but whereas there was still time for a winner against Ludogorets and penalties did the job against Middlesbrough, there was no time to react here.
You really can’t be too critical of the Reds for the manner of the goal given its somewhat freakish nature, but once again they dropped back and allowed their opposition time on the ball in their half of the field, thereby creating a momentum shift and putting pressure on an already creaking defence.
Had the Reds held on for the 1-0 win that everyone watching bar Jagielka thought they’d got then of course this wouldn’t be an issue, but they didn’t. Questions will once again be asked of a club who have previously developed a reputation for scoring last minute winners, not conceding them.
Lukaku On The Right Isn’t Right
Everton’s 3-0 win over Arsenal last season was perhaps their most complete performance under Roberto Martinez, and the Blues boss seems determined to try to recreate it in the bigger matches.
The Belgian played there in the draw with Arsenal this season, and was once again shunted to that side here as Steven Naismith played through the middle.
You could see the thinking behind the decision as Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno appears to prefer attacking to defending, but he’s also pretty strong. Wouldn’t playing Lukaku through the middle – up against Martin Skrtel, who struggled against him at Goodison last season – have been the better move?
Signs Of Life From Lallana
Liverpool are still nowhere near their swaggering, relentless best that they showed last season – with the absences of a couple of blokes whose surname begins with S certainly to do with that – but they got enough signs from Adam Lallana here that he could be a man to add a zip to their game.
In the early stages he was the player who was taking the game to an Everton team who were curiously passive, with Tim Howard required to make a save from a not so trademark header and his clever touches on the edge of the box coming close to opening the visitors up.
His influence on the game waned but it must be remembered that he didn’t have a pre-season due to a knee injury, and he could slowly but surely be edging his way towards the form which earned him his move.
Gerrard Thrives In Space, So Why Did Everton Give Him So Much?
The people who count these things reckon that Steven Gerrard completed 100% of his passes in the first half, whilst his influence on the second period was much more pronounced than just his free-kick which gave the Reds the lead.
As the man himself admitted in his post match interview, he has struggled in recent matches when opposition teams and players – most notably Aston Villa’s Andreas Weimann and West Ham’s Stewart Downing – have placed men right on him, so why didn’t Everton do the same?
In Naismith they appeared to have the perfect player to act as a sort of terrier-type influence on Gerrard, disrupting his game and closing him down, but it never happened.
Martinez might see that as a missed opportunity.
Ultimately, We’ve Learned Nothing
In the end though – and sorry to wait until the end of the piece before stating this – but we haven’t really learned much about either team from what was the 223rd Merseyside derby (you have to mention the number at some point).
Liverpool are still a work in progress badly missing the injured Daniel Sturridge and needing new arrivals to improve, whilst Everton appear to have regressed somewhat from last season and are in need of a bit more spike in their game – of course they are missing Ross Barkley.
Both sides will keep scratching around and looking for results, but neither has the flow or the dynamism which made them two of the best teams in the Premier League to watch last season.
It could be a long season for both.
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