Two dropped. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. The equaliser is a magnificent strike from a player whose underrated ability and commitment to the cause means he deserves a moment to dine out on. This is that moment. But that moment doesn’t mean Everton deserved a point. However nor does it mean Liverpool quite deserved all three. For too long in the football match only a worldie looked like hitting the net for Everton. For almost as long in the football match despite Liverpool’s dominance you felt they needed the same to open the scoring.
I watched on Danish television while in Turkey. The world is a small place. Bet365 in Denmark has Samuel L Jackson speaking English. Imagine the market research which suggests we are more beguiled by Ray Winstone. Imagine how south east orientated it is. Winstone is what THE LADS like. They brought me my own beer tap filled with Efes. I needed all of it to get through that realisation alone.
Let me let you into a secret – I like being away for the derby. This is accident but it is mostly happy accident. Fifteen seconds in Brockle points out they’ve hit Sterling twice. A minute in, she tells me Tim Howard looks like a hairy banana. Happy accident indeed.
Both sides started better than their recent form but only Liverpool really carried it through. Gareth Barry stayed on the pitch due to context – and fair play to him for exploiting context – and pulled whatever strings he could but Everton never got going. On eight there was the penalty shout. I’d have given it. But then I support Liverpool. Had I been neutral I would have done as my refereeing namesake did. If it doesn’t hit his upper arm it looks to hit his face.
Get on it: First half Liverpool run the show. First half Liverpool lash too many crosses into the box.
The crosses I have issue with come from further than fifteen yards from the byline. Crossing is beguiling. So many feel like they are just about to be perfect. Do it again. That last one, that was just unlucky. Skrtel just before half time. Unlucky. It’ll come. Keep hitting that big one. It’ll come. It’ll come.
It rarely comes.
Get on it: First half Liverpool run the show. First half Liverpool have too many shots from distance.
Loads of them. Four or five at least. This, unlike the distant crossing, continues in the second forty five. If you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win the raffle. And the eventual equaliser is proof of that. And yet if you merely keep working you improve the odds, change the game. Moreno’s effort on twenty two made me have Yon Reece flashbacks and, well, I’m on my holidays here. No need.
First half though Liverpool interchanged well, were brighter and sharper than recent weeks and exposed the unlikely Hibbert time and again, forcing McCarthy into covering him as a full time job. Henderson particularly looked brighter whereas Markovic looked again like a man for whom everything had come as an almighty shock. Baines should have done better when he surprised him halfway through the first half, Lovren did well though his initial header could have been better.
Second half Everton started brighter but looked blunt. McCarthy, plugging holes everywhere, does well when Markovic breaks. Balotelli while working hard was too casual in a load of his touches and a long, accurate ball from Gerrard to Manquillo inside the box tells an entire story. It’s a good ball, but Manquillo can’t do much with it. It is straightish and forces play and technically good but ultimately fruitless. Watch it over and again. It is, as a bit of play, far more eloquent than this or any discussion of the match. Little about it is wrong butbit leads to nothing right.
It doesn’t directly matter though because Steven Gerrard is about to do the business. Ste Gerrard. Ste Gerrard. Ste Gerrard. He’ll be making Evertonians eat their own, unique livers when he is 53. And it is why you have him on the pitch as much as you can. His set pieces all day were good – Lallana unlucky not to score – but that is a belter.
Get on it: Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool make almost nothing happen for twenty odd minutes.
Yes, Lukaku should at the very least work Mignolet, and yes Balotelli should win the game for Liverpool – from a cross which is why it needs to be said, crossing too much is a problem, not crossing full stop – but after then, very little of note happens in the game.
Through the game Liverpool have had enough half, three quarter and clear chances to be three up. But they aren’t three up. They are one and they do a good job of seeing it out and it takes a worldie from the Evertonian captain to create this ball in the pit of my stomach which no amount of Efes can dislodge. The question is, should you take the one or do you push on? At that stage of the game?
We can do arguments either way. We can point out the manager only made the one change, yet none of us would have man marked Jagleika with someone off the bench. Nor encouraged the closing down. Centre backs swinging a foot from thirty yards? All day, lad. All day. Oh.
My thing is: Today, more than West Ham, more than Villa, we appeared to miss Sturridge or Suarez. In those games Liverpool couldn’t get themselves playing through midfield. Today they could. They did. They were mostly good. What they needed was the force which says: HEY YOU. Which says: Do this, here, now. This isn’t to criticise anyone; Markovic aside every red shirt played well. Instead it speaks of a side good but still slightly out of focus.
That focus, that clarity in the final third needs to come soon. A season can’t slip away looking for it.
That’s what burns me up tonight in Turkey. What means the derby hideaway isn’t what it should be. What means this ball in the pit of my stomach I’ll be eating and drinking all night to dislodge won’t go anywhere. A season can’t slip away looking for focus. We can’t afford it or allow it.
Two dropped. But while they have one more than they deserve, I can’t – hand on stomach – say for certain we have two points too few.