The day most fans have waited for arrived. Before the game the expected result varied depending who you might of asked around the city of Liverpool. With the red side of the city hoping for a title winning season, it may of been surprising however, to know how optimistic Everton fans were coming into the game. While the management, the players and fans alike called for the Goodison regulars to create an atmosphere, those who attended today, would tell you the message was well received.
World Cup final it may not be but the Merseyside Derby is much more than three points, it’s local pride and passion rolled into one big occasion. There was also a trophy at stake, given the points involved having a direct influence on the title race. As I’m sure we are all aware, and I will mention, for any stray Liverpool fans who may have stumbled across this piece, Everton have more chance of signing Messi, than we have of winning the league this season. Liverpool however are at least for now a little closer to the prize that has alluded both Merseyside teams since the beginning of the Premier League.
With Local pride at stake, points on the table to grab and the backing of the fans, Everton went into Goodison, a different side to the one we saw in our last home game. Everton played the ball at a higher tempo, made direct runs and challenged for every ball all over the park.
I know some Everton fans will be disappointed to not see all three points today, as we are fighting our own battle to finish as high as we can in the league, but I think the 0-0 draw was a job well done today. Do we need to do better to break what is a notable period without a win, yes, but “there’s always next season”.
With raised levels of performance, today’s choice of Three Stars were a little harder to choose, than from previous weeks. Here are the three I selected.
Fast becoming a crowd favourite, the little Brazilian deserves all his plaudits. Today like many other games he give his all to the match. Although of little stature, he hassled the Liverpool team from the young English fullback to the red talisman, Mo Salah, helping keep him quiet throughout the game.
Bernard’s forward runs with the ball today give Everton an exciting attacking outlet. Bursting down the width, at times cutting in and showing up in the box. It can however be said he needs to be more clinical in the final third, I know we lack a top quality striker but a more clever range of passing could lead to more goals for the Toffees. Denied a chance to shoot by a last ditch challenge a more confident goal scorer may have pulled the trigger a little earlier but that’s only a minor critique, easily resolved.
Another great game for the captain of the Icelandic national team. From the off Sigurdsson kept a high press, intercepting passes in the final third and looking for willing runners to get behind the Liverpool line. Granted Everton failed to score today but it wasn’t down to Gylfi’s lack of trying to create something or get into dangerous positions.
In his last game Sigurdsson’s moments of magic helped tip the scales in Everton’s favour, to lead to a comfortable win. Unfortunately a solid Liverpool defence denied the Everton attacking midfielder the same opportunity but I was impressed with a more defensive display from him today.
After a poor debut season it is easy to see why certain sections of the Goodison crowd haven’t warmed to Michael Keane. I hope his call to arms earlier in the week, coupled with today’s performance, is enough to make those doubters think twice about his ability and worth to this club. His continued presence in the Everton back line will only lead to better performances in my opinion.
Not only tackling well, Keane added a challenge to everything around him. Knowing when to hold, press and even helping the tempo of the game with his build up play from the back. It would be hard to mention his influence and performance in this game, without mentioning his sprint past players, to track back and make a last ditch challenge to deny Salah a chance in front of goal. Going forward I would like to see Keane with a regular CB partner allowing the pair to establish an understanding which could help build towards the clubs future.