Paper Review: Dirk the derby matchwinner

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Much like Ian Rush used to be Everton‘s tormentor in the 80’s, Dirk Kuyt is proving a similar foe to our rivals from across the Park of late.

The Dutchman headed home Steven Gerrard’s corner to win the derby on Saturday to score his second goal against the Toffees this season. Back in 2007 he scored two penalties to give the Reds a last minute win at Goodison. He clearly enjoys scoring against the Blues as much as enjoy watching him do it. Well in Dirk.

The Guardian’s chalkboards single him out for praise today too.

Paul Wilson in The Observer yesterday wrote, “Liverpool’s season might not be such a write-off after all. They are beginning to show signs of their old solidity and have every chance of a strong finish.”

Wilson comments on the “generosity” shown by referee Martin Atkinson in not dismissing Steven Pienaar for his crude challenge on Javier Mascherano, and Marouane Fellaini being “lucky to escape punishment”. There can be no complaints about Krygiakos’ dismissal but the failure to even book Fellaini and somehow not send off Pienaar for what was a worse challenge than either of the other two is a huge bone of contention.

Thankfully, as pointed out by Dave Usher at The Liverpool Way, “it may have suited us in a way to be able to just sit back and battle it out. With eleven men there was more onus on us to attack them and that’s not our strength at the moment. ”

Usher writes:

“Going down to ten gave us no choice but to be ‘compact’ and to keep the game tight. We would have done that anyway, but the crowd wouldn’t have liked it. With us being down to ten men, the fans expectations changed, and grinding it out became not just acceptable, but necessary. We did it really well, and Everton just couldn’t get anywhere near our goal as we fought and scrapped for every ball and showed a great desire to get the job done.”

Rory Smith at The Telegraph describes the 213th Merseyside derby as “Toxic in the stands, brutal on the pitch.”

He singles out Steven Gerrard for praise after the skipper moved back into midfield following the sending off:

“Steven Gerrard gave the lie to Fabio Capello’s decision to overlook him, again, for the England captaincy, by dropping deep and controlling the game’s tempo. He has been a shadow of his former self this season, but the signs are that he is slowly emerging from the darkness.”

While Tony Barrett at The Times recognises Jamie Carragher’s strong challenging in the opening seconds as setting the tone for the battling performance:

“On Saturday war was declared after 14 seconds, when Jamie Carragher hit Steven Pienaar with a tackle of such ferocity that the South African shuddered from head to toe. “You have to make your presence felt from the start and that’s what we did,” Carragher, the Liverpool defender, said. The tone had been set, there was to be no going back.”

There were battling performances all around though, not just from our Scouse duo, with Lucas Leiva getting stuck in and Javier Mascherano adopting to the right back role he was forced into. Daniel Agger slotted back in seamlessly and Emiliano Insua was more solid than in recent weeks.

With Arsenal‘s defeat to Chelsea capping a good weekend for Liverpool, they next face each other at the Emirates on Wednesday – with Benitez’s resurgent side looking to move to within two points of the fragile Gunners.

We’ll leave you with something to test your mind, Guardian quiz on Merseyside derbies.

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