Luis Suarez took centre stage as Liverpool and Everton shared the points after a pulsating 90 minutes in the 219th Merseyside derby. TIA forum member Zoky takes a quick look at 5 things we learned from the game at Goodison Park yesterday….
1. Rodgers’ calm and bold approach to the derby
We opened the match well, but Brendan put Suso on the left and Raheem on the right. We knew how these derbies usually start, that Everton would try and put a lot of pressure from the start, play direct, which can sometimes be dangerous while the players are still cold to catch them on the break if the players are calm and know what to do – with Suso and Sterling on those sides where they can run forward the ‘protect’ themselvey better if you like when in possession, we found those little spaces from early on and our combinations were good from the start.
Maybe if they were kept on the opposite sides to their foots, we would’ve seen them tucking towards the middle to much where it was all congested, but our idea was to clearly continue putting the ball down on the floor and play, make them chase it and calm the early pressure, ideally maybe trying to sneak a goal early on.
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2. Sahin and where exactly does Rodgers see him?
Truth is, Nuri’s still finding his feet and the league is still maybe a bit too quick for him, not physical because it’s more about him needing to get rid of the ball sooner than he does. But all these rotations, playing very deep against Anzhi and then playing him at the top of the midfield 3 in a game like this, was it really ever going to work? Dangerous enough for the opponent?
It’s not like he was in such great form for us needing him on the pitch, whenever he played in those three positions, but we had other options as well so it was not forced by one way or another. We knew Everton would play Fellaini behind the striker but a midfield duo of Neville and Osman – we could have been more dangerous in that area if we picked something different to Nuri.
We all know he’s a very talented player and that he will improve with time in the coming weeks/months, and Lucas’ injury obviously changes things, but with some midfield players being linked lately, is the club already starting to look what’s in the market in case this thing with Sahin doesn’t work out?
3. Wisdom and the cost (at times like today) of having inexperienced players
It happened with Flanagan and will happen often with young players and their start in senior football. People get carried away too easily and think these players have 10 derbies under their belts. Andre isn’t even a right back to start with, and Everton‘s main threat has been coming down his side so far this season, even without Pienaar they still have a in-form player in Mirallas, who is more direct than Pienaar which was always going to be a task for Andre. This was the first game where we had the opponent pressing us, they are well aware who Wisdom is of course, and then his game gets found out (they know how to press him, those kind of details) and struggles as he did today.
We’re not lucky to have so much people out injured at the moment at full back areas. But these performances happen, you hear people saying “he’s good on the ball, he could become a more attacking full back with time when he learns things, etc.”. He could, of course, but at the moment games like this can and will happen – it’s what happens when you don’t have great depth, but it’s also a learing curve and this performance by Andre isn’t saying he’s not a very good talent but people need to be careful with their expectations over these players who haven’t played 20 games in senior football.
Same goes for Sterling who didn’t have such a bad game, but failed to react at the first goal, was lucky not to get sent off (I’d never give it, but judging by the criteria from the ref that also changed throughout the game, Raheem was lucky) and also missed a great chance.
4. Substitutions and formation change, throwing our cards out too early or good decision?
Everton ended the first half on a high and we needed that half time whistle to get together again, put up a fresh plan, give a few words to some individuals, a bit of confidence and try and win the game because in all honesty, they didn’t create that much clear cut chances, we lost the 2 goal advantage but you always felt that, with Suarez playing maybe one of the top 3 performances since he’s been at the club and if we give him the right support and service, we can win the game and it’s a long 45 minutes ahead of us – more than enough time.
Sahin coming off for Shelvey was a good decision it has and I can’t complain about that, but Coates coming in (Suso wasn’t bad actually), changing the system and all that what came was too early I think. I said Rodgers was bold with his approach to start the derby, but I feel he panicked at half-time and was thinking too quickly about doing everything he could to at least secure a point when the reality was that Everton wasn’t all that quality on the day and we could still hurt them.
We went 4-4-2, trying to defend better on the sides, add more threat in defending in the air in Coates, push Jose up as he showed a few tricky moments when in possession, and push Sterling up as some sort of a second striker, let him go off some defensive responsibility not to risk a second yellow. We did well to shut the shop more in the second half, but we had Raheem and Shelvey leading our counter attacks a few times – he either missed a pass or shot (that brilliant pass).
With Enrique sticking out wide too much and helping Agger, Suarez was left with no real service. The first time we really crossed the halfway line as a team was in the 81st minute, and then we kept Everton in their own half for the rest 10 minutes or so. They panicked and realized a point would also be good, but it just proves that maybe we could have been more patient with our moves, I’m sure if we waited 10 minutes into the second half with only 1 sub and not changing anything (in the end it turned out that Mirallas was taken off during half time and stuff like that, Rodgers could have waited to see how the game was going to pan out in the second half), we would’ve had things to offer later on and have more time and a higher chance of winning the game.
5. Final word
In the end they robbed with that decision. Suarez had maybe the second best performance since he’s been at the club. Taking everything into account, having 7 players who played a large part on Thursday (of course, we can talk about the decision to play Johnson on Thursday, knowing his struggle with niggles after playing a few 90 minute games in a row, or even starting Sahin in a game like this), our injuries, lack of depth & quality, this was a game with almost a same number of positives and negatives.
Everton have proved that they’re still an average team and all this hype (I still say that we should not have gone for Jelavic, even though I’m surprised how well he’s done so far) will soon hit reality, I expect us to finish above them. You saw it in their tactics today, they missed a few players but their general play stayed the same. Concentrate on the positives from this, it’s a great lesson for the kids and make the most of it for the coming games.