TWO points dropped against the worst Premier League team to visit Anfield this season. Frustration for Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool on an afternoon where they battered Everton from pillar to post, but just forgot to win.
On a weekend when rivals have dropped points, The Reds were denied the chance to take advantage on a snowy day in L4.
There will be inevitable criticism coming Klopp’s way for leaving Phil Coutinho and Bobby Firmino on the bench, but the team he did put out dominated the game, but just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net often enough.
That the game’s key mistakes/turning points came from regular starters means that perhaps this was just one of those days where Sky Sports presents the Merseyside derby was meant to finish 1-1.
Anyway, here’s how they rated:
Simon Mignolet: 6
Hard to mark someone who had nothing to do all game. Deals with a couple of crosses well, and gives us all heart palpitations as he races to clatter the ball and Oumar Niasse early on. Would have given him all the ratings if he’d stayed where he was on the Wayne Rooney penalty and headed it away.
Joe Gomez: 9
Joe Colossus they call him, or they should anyway. Best performance in a Liverpool shirt for me and definite MOTM. Defensively did everything right, even did good bits going forward and epitomised the general domination up until the penalty. Needs more of a final ball but was never going to randomly be John Barnes in that regard today. Keep it up, Big Joe.
Dejan Lovren: 6
Now this could go either way. If you agree that it was a penalty, you’ll probably demand he get a two or something, but as far as I can see he does no more wrong than Jordan Henderson did at Brighton last week. Dominic Calvert-Lewin puts his body across him, Lovren puts his hand on his back but makes absolutely no pushing motion, and Calvert-Lewin collapses in a heap. Very, very harsh I thought. Some will say he gave the ref a decision to make, but that’s true of almost every situation where a defender dares to touch a striker who will fall over at the drop of a hat. Otherwise mainly did fine, but his continuing lack of ability to do anything from corners at the other end is doing my head in.
Ragnar Klavan: 7
Mostly dominated in the air, was calm on the ball but like his defensive partner, wasn’t overly tested until the last 15. Makes a couple of silly fouls but was largely fine. Not much else to say about the Klavster really.
Andy Robertson: 7
Did the Albie Moreno role well in that he was basically Liverpool’s entire left side. Got up and down all game, gave Rooney all kinds of problems first half and got into several positions of threat. Only problem was the lack of final ball. Could have had about five assists on another day but ball after ball found Everton players or sailed out for a goal kick. Might improve with more games though, which are likely to come in Albie’s absence.
Jordan Henderson: 6
The captain has been the subject of loads of “Is he shite/Is he boss” chat this week, so I’ll land somewhere in the middle. Was the cog in the midfield that allowed Liverpool to control the vast majority of the game and put himself about like he knew what a derby meant, but at the same time picked wrong options loads (including that horrendous effort in stoppage time) and another whose final ball was left wanting far too often.
James Milner: 7
Of all the bizarre selections today, I was most worried about Millie if I’m honest. His appalling performance against Chelsea had me doubting his midfield capabilities for high octane games like this one, but he pleasantly surprised me. Was full of energy (probably after snogging Klopp ’cause he told him he wouldn’t be left back) and made loads of tackles and interceptions. Lots of nearly moments, but encouraging that he’s capable of better performances like this in the middle.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7
A game of two halves for Oxo-Chambo. Thought he was really poor first half, misplacing passes all over the shop, but second half he seemed a lot more confident. The fear that he appeared to have in the first 45 was replaced by a willingness to get in places that matter, win the ball, carry it and whip crosses in. At least two balls in deserved to be put away. Unlucky not to emerge from the game with some numbers.
Mohamed Salah: 8
If you weren’t sure what Cuco Martina on toast looked like before the game, it was that. Little Mo terrorised him all through the first half, staying wide, making him ruin Everton’s shape, before coming in and trying something. Amazed it took over 40 minutes to work but when it did it was spectacular. Another excellent goal, 19 for the season from a lad we just hoped would give us double figures. Has more joy second half but as with others, final ball just wasn’t quite there. Rested for last 25 or so and therefore hopefully starts again on Wednesday.
Sadio Mane: 6
What an incredibly difficult one this is to score. On one hand, he was typical Mane in that he was doing bits all over the pitch. A constant thorn in Everton’s side, getting into positions and causing soiling of underwear for visiting fans every time he did. But — and this is a general theme of today — did the wrong thing in front of goal. His failure to square the ball at the end of the first half and drag a shot wide with his left is arguably what actually costs Liverpool the win. He’ll recover and do wonderful things in future games, but that moment will haunt him until he makes up for it by banging a hat trick in the FA Cup tie.
Dominic Solanke: 6
Possibly the biggest eyebrow raiser on the teamsheet going in, and it felt a little harsh that it was his selection that seemed to be mainly sending Reds Twitter into meltdown for an hour before kick off. It was a tough game for him, with Ashley Williams doing a man-marking job and bullying him to some extent, and he hardly got any chances to actually face the goal. As he showed at Stoke though, is good at simple but effective passes and layoffs to teammates around the edge of the box. Will have better games and will have learned loads from this experience.
Roberto Firmino: 6
Has a decent effort at getting Liverpool to put the game to bed but it wasn’t entirely clear what position he was playing. May sound harsh but felt he could have broken his neck a bit more to get on the end of Robertson’s late ball across the box.
Phil Coutinho: 6
No doubt there’ll be plenty who’ll bitch that he didn’t start after his whirlwind showing in midweek, but supposedly was carrying an ankle knock and hadn’t trained since the Moscow game. Tries to create things but with little time and 42 Everton defenders behind the ball was always going to be difficult. Hits a world-class free kick that would have won it if Jordan Pickford hadn’t cleverly placed himself in the middle of the goal rather than picking a side.
Danny Ings: N/A
Didn’t get injured (I don’t think), so fair play.
A frustrating end to what had been a remarkably comfortable afternoon up until the referee gives the very soft penalty, but these things happen. There’s plenty of points to be won between now and the next time we face Sam Allardyce’s bus-parking Blues, so let’s do just that, then give them what they deserve by dumping them out of the FA Cup.
Less than a month to go until we do this all again. Let’s learn lessons, lick wounds and then destroy the shite on a Friday night when they’ll hardly touch the ball.
Incidentally, I have a new book for all of you struggling to think of something to buy the Red in your life this Christmas. Kloppite: One Man’s Quest to turn Doubters into Believers looks at Klopp’s first two seasons at Anfield, the ups, the downs, and most importantly, the derby wins… It can be found here, or wherever else books are sold.
“They were there for the taking and we couldn’t do it.” 😩
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 10 December 2017