It was another memorable all-action victory for Liverpool, with the added satisfaction of being the most convincing of derby wins.
Everton 1-4 Liverpool
Premier League (14), Goodison Park
December 1, 2021
Goals: Henderson 9′, Salah 19′, 64′, Jota 79′; Gray 38′
First class finishing
The opening goal from the Liverpool captain silenced Goodison Park, and maybe left a few of his own supporters speechless for a second or two before celebrating the goal.
It would have been an impressive strike with his stronger foot, but with his weaker left peg it was an exceptional effort and part of what was a stellar performance from the midfielder.
Jota rounded off the victory with a brilliant touch and a powerful finish from a narrow angle, again with the weaker foot. In most games, it would have been the standout goal.
As for Salah, his goals didn’t seem out of the ordinary as he is now performing in this manner week in, week out, but they were excellent finishes involving speed, balance, composure, and technique.
A couple of derby goals only add to his increasingly legendary status at the club and in world football…
Salah proves he’s the best in the world
Lionel Messi may have won the Ballon d’Or, thanks to performances towards the end of his time at Barcelona and his displays to help Argentina to a Copa America, but he is not the best player in the world at this exact moment in time.
That accolade belongs to Salah, who proved it yet again against Everton by rising above the level of any other player on the pitch, even in an intense derby match.
A continuation of this form and even a reasonably successful Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt would mean he is a sho-in for next year’s award.
But the only things that matter now are not the individual accolades, but the entertainment he is providing for Liverpool and Egypt fans, and hopefully the trophies that come with it.
Van Dijk finally taking free kicks
There’s a position on the pitch where when a free-kick is won just calls for a centre-back taking a long run-up and blasting it as hard as possible.
That wasn’t quite what we got from Van Dijk as he shot into the wall (from a disappointingly short run-up) but it was still good to mix it up a bit and see him take one.
Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick against West Ham was the first time the Reds have found the net from such a situation in well over a year, so given the meticulousness of their training in all areas, it must be something they have been rehearsing.
Having scored from free-kicks for Celtic, it’s possible Van Dijk has performed well in these sessions, but maybe next time he needs to take a longer run-up!
Benitez in trouble?
Benitez’s 4-4-2 formation was criticised by the commentators at the start of the game, but it did give his side a chance to get at Liverpool as opposed to just defending.
They were able to do so on one particular occasion when Richarlison slid the pacy Demarai Gray through the Liverpool defence, but it was to be a consolation. The gulf in quality in the two lineups, regardless of who’s in the dugout or the formation, was there for all to see.
Having been unable to spend money since arriving at the club, Benitez is fighting with one hand behind his back at the moment, but he’s unlikely to get much sympathy from increasingly impatient Everton fans.
They are the complete opposite of Liverpool in the way they have organised their recruitment and transfer business, with one of the highest spends in the league in the past five years, but nothing to show for it.
Liverpool’s lack of spending is often criticised, but their recruitment team have assembled a world-class XI — one which provides moments such as this in a derby for fans to revel in, and those fans dug out an old Benitez’s song at the end for good measure.
Preparation for Wolves test
Klopp and the players will take plenty of confidence from this run of games, though, which also includes that fairly comfortable victory against Porto, but they will need to be on top form at the weekend.
It’s a busy schedule and rotation will be needed at some point, but that might be better saved until the Milan game regardless of the Champions League millions on offer.