The media thought Liverpool’s 0-0 draw at Everton was damaging to their title hopes, and were critical of Jurgen Klopp and Mohamed Salah’s performances.
It proved another frustrating derby day at Goodison Park for the Reds as vital points were dropped.
Chances were there to win the game but wasteful finishing cost dearly as Salah and Fabinho passed up glorious opportunities to take all three points.
It was a flat ending to what has been a mixed week, but coming through it just a point behind Man City with nine games to go shows this race is by no means over.
Here’s how the media assessed the stalemate.
Reporters thought it was a damaging result but insist that the race isn’t over just yet…
The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce labelled it a “damaging setback” but also warned that nothing is decided by this result:
“Whereas a week earlier a point at Old Trafford against a resurgent Manchester United side could be viewed as a decent result, there’s no polishing this one. Plain and simple, it’s a damaging setback.
“The finish line is too far away for this slip up to immediately be labelled as season-defining.”
The Mail’s Martin Samuel was in no doubt this was two points dropped but noted how a usually good result feels worse due to the freakish standards set this season:
“This is a head-to-head title race and results have to be matched. Manchester City won this weekend, Liverpool did not.
“This is a year in which perfectly decent results can be made to feel like defeats. Liverpool did not do badly at all at Goodison; they just didn’t win.”
This Is Anfield’s Karl Matchett bemoaned the number of draws Liverpool have collected and feels City have the edge as they continually find a way to win:
“It’s four draws in the last six Premier League games, or to put it another way, the Reds have taken 10 points from the last 18—barely more than half available.
“That’s not good enough, that’s not title form and now the title itself is no longer in Liverpool’s hands. Man City are top, because they found a way to get the win, just by 1-0, both in midweek and this weekend.”
The Evening Standard‘s David Lynch thinks there is reason for optimism though, citing City’s hectic April as something that should give Liverpool hope:
“A one-point deficit with nine games remaining is hardly decisive, particularly given the champions have shown themselves to be prone to a wobble.
“That fixture logjam approaching in April looks promising from a Liverpool perspective, though they need to keep up their end of the bargain.”
The watching journalists all thought Klopp had a bad day at the office…
The Mirror’s James Whaling thought the German’s decision to stick with Divock Origi backfired:
“Jurgen Klopp opted to start with hero of the Anfield derby Divock Origi with Roberto Firmino still battling back to full fitness from injury.
“But it was a frustrating afternoon for the Belgian, regularly finding himself out on the left flank and starved of service.”
Lynch was critical of Klopp for using the same “conservative” midfield and thinks the cautious lineup is proving costly:
“Klopp was not rewarded, however, with Everton finding it far too easy to keep that midfield on a leash for the first hour of the game.
“Klopp wasn’t renowned for possessing a conservative streak when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund but has shown it regularly in his recent team selections. If it continues, it could well cost his Liverpool team the title.”
This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson pulled no punches, labelling it “Klopp’s worst performance of the season” while heavily criticising the German’s subs:
“This was, to put it bluntly, Klopp’s worst performance of the season.
“His substitutions were the poorest aspect though, with his decision to bring on Milner and Lallana making little sense. Where were Keita and Shaqiri? Or Sturridge? Goalscorers.”
Football365’s Matt Stead was shocked that Naby Keita wasn’t introduced as the Reds needed a midfield spark who could play decisive passes or carry the ball to open Everton’s defence:
“Naby Keita was surely the answer, not James Milner.
“Liverpool needed something different, but the vice-captain offered pretty much the same as Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Henderson before him. Who is the incisive, decisive passer or dribbler there?”
Reporters were critical of another disappointing big-game display from Salah…
Jackson labelled the Egyptian’s performance “dreadful” and was disappointed that Salah didn’t “step up” when needed most:
“Salah was still searching for his 50th Premier League for Liverpool but he had a dreadful afternoon.
“Liverpool needed their main man to step up but he went missing—again.”
Matchett was critical of Salah’s poor finishing, labelling the Egyptian’s play inside the box “terrible”:
“To have that amount of clear chances, in a big game, one simply has to be put away.
“Salah’s movement was great, but his penalty box play was terrible when Liverpool needed it most.”
The Mirror’s Andy Dunn backed Salah to bounce back from this rough patch and still play a decisive role yet in the title hunt:
“As they lean into the final bend and face up to the home stretch, Salah’s magnificence was always going to play a decisive part in the title race.
“The duel with City will go down to the wire and it could be one man, one moment, that decides it. After this, Mohamed Salah will be hoping that man can be him.”
And Whaling went one further, explaining that the Reds’ title ambitions hinge on Salah rediscovering top form:
“If the Reds are to win the title this season, Salah will surely need to rediscover his brilliant best in the coming weeks.”
The media discussed what exactly was missing from the performance…
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney thought the big problem was anxiety and hesitancy in the performance:
“This was a fourth draw in six in the league but, worse for Jurgen Klopp, another anxious and hesitant display.”
Writing for Goal, Neil Jones was disappointed Liverpool’s poor offensive play, describing the performance “a worrying regression”:
“Having seemingly returned to their fluent best in battering Watford in midweek, this was a worrying regression from Klopp’s men.
“Improvement will be needed at the other end, though. From Salah, from Sadio Mane and from the rest. A long way to go, still, but they’ll do well to win the league playing—and finishing—like this.”
The Independent’s Mark Critchley thought the Reds paid the price for a lack of creativity in midfield:
“Like at Old Trafford seven days ago, Jurgen Klopp’s side struggled to convert spells of possession in clear opportunities. There was no clinical touch, no composure where it counted.”
Lynch explained why he thought that the Reds missed a trick not putting Everton under pressure on set-pieces:
“If Liverpool’s scouts had done their homework, they would have noted that Everton had conceded 13 goals from set-pieces so far this season.
“Trent Alexander-Arnold too often hit the first man in the first 20 minutes and, from there, the visitors took to getting creative—with wasteful consequences. Given some of the fine deliveries seen in the win over Watford, this was one of the most disappointing aspects of the Reds’ play.”
Stead thought Liverpool needed more attacking productivity from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson:
“That hinted at part of the problem for Liverpool, who can probably count on their fingers the amount of times the opposition have had more adventurous full-backs in any given game.
“Alexander-Arnold and Robertson struggled to establish themselves going forward, while Digne and Seamus Coleman were more influential at both ends.”
Matchett thinks that Liverpool have shown a lack of desire at times to force games and really give everything to turn disappointing draws into vital victories:
“But it doesn’t make any difference at all if the intent and the desire isn’t there at every single moment of the match.
“No real tactical change, no real impetus from midfield, no absolute forcing the issue, desperately doing whatever is necessary to get that ball over the line and in. Not at Goodison Park, not at Old Trafford.”
However, Matchett also reserved a word of praise for the defence for “standing tall” and finding top form in recent games:
“In with the profligacy at the other end, it must be noted that the defence once again stood tall, performed admirably and did more than the job expected of them.
“After some turn-of-the-year troubles, Liverpool have now kept five clean sheets on the spin, a brilliant return to form at that end of the pitch.”
Certain journalists offered thoughts on what Liverpool need to improve for the rest of the run-in…
Finally, Whaling believes it’s vital that Klopp’s side improve their away form:
“Liverpool are far from out of it, but their performances, particularly away from Anfield, leave cause for concern.
“This was their third successive match on the travels from which they have failed to take all three points, and the second in a row they have failed to find the net.”
And Matchett feels the Reds need to devise a better plan to break down unambitious, stubborn opponents away from home:
“Liverpool must now regroup, come up with a better plan to break down such sides, and especially those on the road.”