Liverpool bounced back to winning ways thanks to a 2-0 derby day victory, a reward for remembering football involves attacking as well as defending, which Everton forgot all about.
Liverpool 2-0 Everton
Premier League (21), Anfield
February 13, 2023
Goals: Salah 36′, Gakpo 49′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Had nothing to do first half except claim a few crosses, make a few passes and pick himself up after a somewhat late challenge on him. And that is perfectly fine by us.
A nice watching brief for the win, in truth, after a season of overwork.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Some very wayward first-time passing in the opening 45′, but did stick well to his task of defending Dwight McNeil’s darts down the flank. A couple of interceptions high upfield allowed quick counters and one low cross was very dangerous.
But the best came right after the restart: a classic overlap, first-time low cross and just a second league assist of the season, as Gakpo tapped in at the far post.
Joel Matip – 7
Well off the speed of the game from the start, getting caught by one ball in behind and losing out in the physical battle a couple of times.
However, we did also see him make those surges forward which were important – given a relative lack of creativity in midfield – and his second-half defensive work was slightly better as we looked to defend a little more aggressively in spells.
Joe Gomez – 8
One of his much better, much more diligent defensive displays.
Bullied the top-flight rookie of Ellis Simms, covered very well across the entire width of the defensive line and played out with assurance, ending the match with a passing accuracy of 93 percent.
Andy Robertson – 8
A much higher-paced performance from our left-back. Quick into challenges, but more importantly, very rapid in getting forward into space and carrying the ball 20 and 30 yards upfield – key to Liverpool’s second goal.
Overlapped both Darwin and Gakpo to good effect, delivered a couple of decent set pieces and got Everton all riled up at the end, which is always great.
Fabinho – 6
Still so incredibly timid and slow on the ball. A couple of better defensive moments, mostly stopping one-vs-ones when running straight at him, but the athleticism certainly isn’t there if he’s bypassed.
Jordan Henderson – 7
A curious mix of rousing the crowd and finding them, with his sort-of-high-intensity pressing a continuous line of back-passes ending in cheers and appreciation from the Kop – but too many of his first-time passes ended in the stands too.
An early first-time knock over the top set the tone for his on-the-ball work, but credit must be paid for the back-tracking and ball-winning which did occur in that first 45 too. Not lots of it, but enough to stop a few moments of potential danger.
Stefan Bajcetic – 9 – Man of the Match
We’ll be stunned and appalled if Bajcetic doesn’t win the very next Ballon d’Or.
The most composed player on the pitch in the first half, he was firefighting for more than a couple of his teammates and excellent in his distribution under pressure.
Gritty when needed, but with good vision to pick a pass from a more adventurous area of the pitch than he has previously played in, he was spraying balls left and right and earning big applause from the Kop all night.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Couldn’t trap the ball, fell over instead of shooting, and misplaced passes infield.
And then he scored.
An absolute gift, for certain, but Mo helped make the move and got on the end of it, and the change was instant: suddenly he could take people on again with his first touch and turn, he was involved in build-up play and helped overload the right for 2-0.
Also, incredibly, he won some free kicks! Still took about eight of them on him for a yellow card to come out, mind, but it’s a start.
Cody Gakpo – 7
A Liverpool goalscorer at last, the Dutchman’s back post tap-in wasn’t just a milestone moment for himself but a real settling of some nerves too.
The second half could have gone any way despite a decent first 45, but he gave the Reds daylight and belief.
His all-round showing was decent at times, with some nice hold-up play in deep areas and linking with his forwards, but the goal was vital.
Darwin Nunez – 8
Gave it everything as always, roared on by the backing of the crowd whenever he decided he fancied a bit of a run.
Barged a few out of the way, led the line through the middle when needed despite mainly being stationed on the left – and produced a fantastic clipped cross for the opening assist.
Diogo Jota (on for Nunez, 69′) – 5 – A welcome return from a long injury lay-off. Needs minutes, obviously.
Roberto Firmino (on for Gakpo, 79′) – 6 – Another injury comeback. Hopefully, can create a welcome competition for places.
James Milner (on for Henderson, 79′) – 7 – Big massive tackle to prevent a free run on goal.
Naby Keita (on for Salah, 90′) – N/A – Just a few minutes.
Harvey Elliott (on for Bajcetic, 90′) – N/A – And likewise.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Tsimikas, Phillips, Van Dijk
Jurgen Klopp – 9
Jurgen had to make a big call in midfield as usual, this time because the recent constant, Thiago, is out for several weeks.
His choice to play Bajcetic higher upfield worked a treat; the decision to leave Matip and Gomez paired up eventually yielded a clean sheet, though it feels more to do with the visitors’ reluctance to enter the attacking half rather than the duo complementing each other better.
But it’s a derby and we were dreadful beforehand; Liverpool needed a win and a performance, and that’s what we got.
As such, Klopp got everything right he needed to, which he’ll still understand doesn’t mean it’s a case of job done overall.
The city is red, and the Kop remain glad that Jurgen is one too.