“Thus swung the pendulum.”
Mere afterthought the phrase may be, but the adage adheres strongly to Liverpool’s performance in the 229th edition of the Merseyside Derby hosted by them on Sunday, 10th December. Their pursuit of victory seemed to have come to a halt long before Everton managed to snatch a point from the jaws of certain defeat.
Was it a mixed day, then, for Jurgen Klopp at the office named Anfield? No. It was an outright poor one. In a game which saw Jordan Henderson out-pass the Evertonians, the scoreline seemed to shock even the most nonchalant of supporters on either side.
Liverpool lacked the final killer instinct despite being the most dominant side on the pitch. That could be attributed to the absences of Roberto Firminho and Philipe Coutinho, both overlooked for the starting XI places and assembled as substitutes on a snow-blanketed northwest day.
After all, they were the home side. Klopp’s 4-4-1-1 system, therefore seemed to have structure but at the cost of the style that had earned the Kop-supported side, much of their succour in the last eight games. Despite this, Liverpool ran rampant all-round, taking Everton apart piece by piece.
Profligacy was the word of the day at Anfield with chance by chance being missed by the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and James Milner to name a few. It was imperative that strikers the class of the two benched Brazilians begin this game to ensure the chances they’ve been tucking away would pay rich dividends here too.
A casing point was Sane’s almost criminal miss in the minutes after Salah’s superb opener, where he spurned a superb chance wide despite teammates in better positions, on the counter-attack
At the other end, Everton’s sucker punch was reminiscent of the philosophy employed by the man in charge of them. Did Sam Allardyce strike gold in the cold? Not quite. However, he’ll be impressed with the grit of his Toffees side particularly of his captain Wayne Rooney, who scored his first ever goal in the hallowed Derby for Liverpudlians, with a smashing finish in the most pressing of circumstances.
However, for vast swathes of the game, the Goodison Park tenured were static and far adrift of the pace of the match. It has to change with Allardyce taking his team forward into the big games.- Honeymoon time is over.
Dejan Lovren played into the storyline by recklessly fouling a stranded Calvert-Lewis. He has been a weak-link for Liverpool at the back despite Klopp’s suggestions of innocence. In the Red are Liverpool’s defensive rear-guard, who’ve committed to conceding silly goals, with just two clean sheets in their last six games in all competitions. Champions are not just formed by attacking gusto, but by keeping the door to the safe, shut as well.
With more than half the season remaining, it seems likely that the result will quickly be put to the back-burner for the greater good of progress, though, one can’t imagine that Liverpool will feel they were the bigger losers on the night.