You can take the fans out of the derby but you seemingly can't take the “derby” out of this historic grudge match, the latest edition of which saw four goals, an almost obligatory red card — 88 minutes, it should be said, after Jordan Pickford could have been sent off himself — and a last-gasp intervention from VAR’s hair’s-breadth rulers. A fixture that so often fails to deliver on the hype may not have produced the greatest exhibition of football from both sides but there were plenty of talking points and drama to chew over.
Everton came into the game with a 100% record and greater optimism of ending their miserable record in this fixture than they have done for many years but, in truth, they didn't do themselves justice. For long periods, there was just too much of the “old Everton”, the one that struggles to beat the opposition press, relies too heavily on Pickford’s boot to launch “attacks” and lacks the crisp, clinical passing of the like that Liverpool used to race into a very early lead.
With players possessing the ball-moving qualities of James Rodriguez, Allan and André Gomes — and certainly given the start they’d made to the new season — Evertonians could have been forgiven for expecting more from their team, especially in the first half where they struggled to contain a reds side operating near their peak. Gomes, in particular, was poor and looked well off the pace throughout until he was replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson with 20 minutes to go and what was a sub-par performance overall from the team, coloured as it was by some visible fatigue, might gnaw at Carlo Ancelotti when he plays this one back.
When Everton were fleetingly sublime, it was, unsurprisingly, James Rodriguez who was at the heart of it but the Colombian had a mixed performance himself (which, when you consider he was still probably the best player in Blue on the day, is quite something) while Richarlison, like Yerry Mina displaying the effects of trans-Atlantic travel on Thursday, was peripheral until he took centre stage late on.
But if the feeling was that Adriánwas a weak link in the reds’ side and that the loss Virgil van Dijk being forced off with an injury with just 10 minutes gave the Blues another big advantage, the hosts didn't end up taking full advantage. Apart from having to pick the ball out of the net and denying Dominic Calvert-Lewin prior to the first equaliser, the Spanish keeper wasn’t sufficiently worked by Everton.
Instead, the home side finished the match with 10 men after Richarlison’s deserved dismissal and played a Get Out of Jail Free card in stoppage time when Pickford, who had kept his side in it with an impressive display, almost threw a point away but Jordan Henderson’s goal, another potential heart-breaker for Blues supporters, was ruled out for marginal offside.
If there were fears that Everton would take the brunt of Liverpool’s response to the battering they took at Villa Park before the international break (not to mention that the forced pause in the schedule and the travel involved for some key players would be detrimental to the Toffees’ early-season momentum, they were realised right at the start of this contest. Jürgen Klopp’s side came flying out of the traps and were ahead inside three minutes.
A rapier-like passing move through the hosts’ midfield ended with the ball being played out to Andrew Robertson wide on the left and he centred hard and low for Sadio Mané to slam the ball high into the goal with a first-time finish.
Sensing blood, the reds came forward again in the fifth minute and when Virgil van Dijk threatened to meet a ball to the back post, he was cleaned out by a knee-high tackle by Pickford. With the whistle having already gone for offside and Pickford’s “tackle” deemed serious foul play and not violent conduct, there was no scope for VAR to review the incident and either award a penalty or send the goalkeeper off.
As such, it was a massive let-off for Pickford and Everton gradually settled and had a first chance of their own in the 11th minute when Calvert-Lewin could only head Lucas Digne’s cross well over and then when the striker tried to reprise his brilliant first goal against West Ham with deft control of Michael Keane’s ball over the top but his final shot was tame.
Everton equalised, though, with 18 minutes on the clock. Calvert-Lewin collected a ball down the right-hand channel and stung Adrian’s palms with a powerful drive from the angle. James took responsibility for the resulting corner and deposited it into the six-yard box where Keane connected with a strong header through the keeper’s gloves.
That should have been the cue for the Blues to settle, slow things down a bit and play their game a bit more but the passes just weren’t hitting their mark and all too often, the midfield was by-passed by Pickford’s long kicks forward. And that mid-section lacked fortitude at times as well. Allan was robbed of the ball in midfield but Mohamed Salah wasted the consequent chance with a powder-puff finish and then, when Gomes was penalised for a high foot near Mané (complete with theatrics from the Senegalese striker that should have warranted a yellow card), Pickford stretched impressively to push Trent Alexander-Arnold’s curling free-kick away to safety.
Then, with half an hour gone, Everton lost an important player of their own when Seamus Coleman suffered a recurrence of the hamstring problem that had prematurely ended his game against Brighton last time out and was replaced by Ben Godfrey, who acquitted himself very well on what was something of a baptism-by-fire debut.
Thiago Alcântara fired narrowly wide, Mané sliced a shot off target, and Calvert-Lewin’s side-foot touch slid past Adrian’s post as the two sides traded blows late in the first half but it was all square at the half-time interval.
If the second period had started in similar fashion to the first, with the visitors driving forward and seeing efforts from Fabinho and Henderson fly over the crossbar, Everton found some rhythm of their own and when Rodriguez picked Digne out with a splendid cross-field ball and the Frenchman put in a teasing centre, Calvert-Lewin uncharacteristically failed to get a touch ahead of Adrian.
James was at it again 10 minutes later with another quite brilliant cross that Richarlison dived to meet but his header came back off the post before the Colombian star had an effort of his own diverted away from goal by the keeper.
It was with 20 minutes to go in the Goodison derby back in June that Ancelotti’s side found an extra gear in an attempt to win the game and the same was hoped for today but it was Liverpool who took the lead again in the 72nd minute. Mina cut out a cross from the right but only presented it on a platter for Salah who took an instinctive snap-shot that spun beyond Pickford’s dive and inside the far post.
And 2-1 almost became 3-1 five minutes later. Joel Matip lost his marker in the box at a corner and headed towards the top corner but Pickford pawed it out the air superbly to deny the defender before parrying a stinging Salah shot over the bar.
Ancelotti had already withdrawn the disappointing Gomes and he then, somewhat surprisingly, replaced Abdoulaye Doucouré with Alex Iwobi for the last quarter of an hour but it was James and Digne who combined to serve up the second equaliser for Calvert-Lewin. Rodriguez, who had ghosted over to the left flank, fed the Frenchman down the line and his deep cross hung up perfectly for Calvert-Lewin to meet it with one of his amazing leaps and then steer his header back across the keeper.
“Now go and win it,” was, no doubt, the collective refrain from Evertonians watching on screens across the world over but Pickford had to save well at the feet of Mané before Richarlison effectively killed the Blues’ hopes of taking the points with a dreadful and needless challenge on Alcântara in the centre-circle. The Brazilian appeared to injure himself in the process of launching himself through the Spaniard but he will get a month to recuperate and consider his latest lack of judgement with a three-match suspension.
The incident almost proved to be even more costly because Liverpool tried to press home their numerical advantage in the last few minutes and looked to have claimed victory it with yet another sickening stoppage-time winner. Mané was played in down the reds’ left and he cut the ball back into the centre for Henderson whose side-footed effort looked routine enough for Pickford to palm away. Instead, the ball spun off his glove and over the line but Liverpool’s celebrations were cut dead by Video Assistant Referee, David Coote, who adjudged that Mane’s shoulder had been beyond the last defender.
It was a huge slice of fortune for Everton but then the Blues have been due some derby luck after years of dodgy refereeing decisions — hello, Graham Poll — and last-gasp winners. Reds fans will feel aggrieved at VAR and will moan that Pickford should have been given his marching orders after just five minutes but after Dirk Kuyt’s flying kick on Phil Neville, Steven Gerrard’s two-footed lunge on Gary Naismith, Joleon Lescott getting assaulted with no repercussions, Luis Suarez’s histrionics in getting Jack Rodwell sent off (there was also cynical a kick out at Allan by Robertson that went unpunished in today's game), Evertonians won’t be losing any sleep.
Instead, they will, perhaps, see this as evidence that Beelzebub’s pact with the dark side of Merseyside is loosening, that the balances are being redressed somewhat and that their side, after years of inferiority have a side capable of living with the current champions.
Despite being well below the best of what they’ve shown this season and never seeming to get out of second gear, Everton managed to grab a draw against what Klopp described as his side’s best away performance of his tenure. The spirit of a side that knows the meaning of losing less and less these days to twice come from behind is admirable and hugely encouraging.
That’s definitely something to build on for Ancelotti but it’s a relief that the next tortuous derby isn’t until February when the Blues will get a chance to slay two hoodoos at once.
Exactly 10 years to the day since their last Merseyside derby victory, Premier League leaders Everton face local rivals Liverpool at Goodison Park with a full-strength side looking to extend their 100% start to the season.
Carlo Ancelotti is able to call on all his star players, with only Nkounkou missing from the bench, where new signings Robin Olsen and Ben Godfrey are in the matchday squad for the first time.
Liverpool kicked off and Van Dijk sown made his mark on James Rodriguez. Liverpool attacked with pace down the left and Mane lashed the ball past Pickford. A dreadful start for the Blues.
Everton tried to respond but, as soon as Liverpool got the ball, they surged forward and threatened again, the Blues all over the place, giving away a corner, from which Van Dijk tried to get around at the far post and Pickford thundered into him to get the ball behind but he was called offside. VAR took a long long look at it, and confirmed the offside, likely saving a penalty call against Everton's erratic keeper.
Calvert-Lewin tried to advance down the right but the build-up was far too slow to be effective. But Everton at least had some possession, as Van Dijk was deemed unfit to carry on, Gomez replacing him.
Digne got a cross in but Calvert-Lewin jumped a little too early and headed over. But another Liverpool attack had Everton all at sixes and sevens, until Firmino headed behind. But the visitors continued to dictate the pace of the game with the Blues looking shell-shocked and lost.
Playing out from the back, Digne had to scoop the ball up to Calvert-Lewin who took it down superbly to work a shot but then scuffed it terribly as he was flagged offside.
A poor ball from Rodriguez was way too far ahead of Richarlison. But Calvert-Lewin was played in right and driven wide before shooting at Adrian. From the corner, Keane headed home superbly through Adrian's hands.
A terrible giveaway by Allan allowed Liverpool to advance but Salah's shot was easy meat for Pickford.
A free-kick awarded against a rash high boot by Gomes was argued against by the Blues to no avail, was driven toward the top corner by Alexander-Arnold but Jordan gets across superbly to push it behind.
Calvert-Lewin headed down a clearance perfectly to Rodriguez but a dreadful touch from the great man allowed Liverpool to attack. Everton were resorting to the long ball as a way over the high press that was continually thwarting them in midfield.
Everton did a better job of winning back possession, Richarlison looking strangely sloppy trying to control the ball and getting fouled. Coleman was uncomfortable and needed attention, but his hamstring was injured and he had to give way to Ben Godfrey.
Mane beat Godfrey to set up Thiago for a firm strike that sailed just wide of Pickford's goal. A move like their first goal almost came off for the Reds, Mane sidefooting wide fro a very good Robertson cross as the pendulum swung back relentlessly in their favour, Allan struggling and giving up a free-kick against Mane. Godfrey stuck in well to clear for a corner that Everton defended away.
A good free-kick opportunity for Everton from a foul on Rodriguez was headed back into space by Mina to no-one and picked up by the Reds who were instantly down the other end.
Somehow, Everton failed to score from a much sharper move that saw a great cross deflected away from Richarlison. At the other end, another lightning Liverpool attack saw Henderson screw the ball away from goal when it looked ominously easier to score.
Godfrey did incredibly well to wriggle free and feed Rcharlison whose shot was very poor, lamely struck over the bar. Allan gave the ball away again to let Liverpool build, James forced into a difficult challenge on Mane which led to a very dangerous free-kick on the corner of the area that was headed away and then blocked by Godfrey, Everton this time springing the counter.
A long throw by Digne was really poor but led to a late corner as Adrian parried behind but a poor delivery from Rodriguez curled behind on it's way over. Another Liverpool attack ended a difficult half for Everton who had really not clicked at all, with Rodriguez, Allan and Doucouré all below par.
Everton resumed but Liverpool built the first attack, Firmino firing over from distance. Another rapid red move from aa failed Everton attack saw Henderson lash the ball over.
An absolutely wonderful ball out of nothing from Rodriguez to Digne on a sixpence had Liverpool on the back foot and the low cross was perfect for Calvert-Lewin to tap in past Adrian... only he missed it completelY!
A terrible giveaway by Mina after a good sequence of Everton passing led to a bizarre sequence where Mina pushed Roberston over, and he kicked out at Allan. VARdid not seem to see anything wrong with it... six of one?
Gomes made a horrible clearance straight to a Liverpool player that was fortunately not punished, but Everton were still in the game, and starting to move the ball around a little better, a brilliant ball by Rodriguez found Richarlison at the far post... how did he not score??? Because he hit the post, point-blank with Adrian surely beaten, but was he pushed at the critical final moment?
Another Liverpool attack is put behind by Digne and the corner defended away by a good header from Calvert-Lewin. Nice Blues passing was spoilt when Gomes needlessly whacked it way too hard.
Things opened up for James through the middle and his shot almost beat Adrian. From the Digne long throw, Richarlison skied it into the deserted Gwladys Street. Mane was shown yellow for a clumsy foul on Digne. Allan dispossessed Salah with consummate brilliance in the Everton area.
Gomes went in the book for a needless foul on Thiago. With something needed and Sigurdsson coming on for Gomes, Mina cleared the ball straight to Salah who lashed the ball into the far corner of the net. Abysmal defending from the Columbian.
Keane found Calvert-Lewin with a geat forward ball that he took well on his chest but the defender got a touch to deny him a chance. Liverpool attached again, and Keane did well to thwart Salah at the expense of a corer and Matip's header was a goal all the way but for an absolutely top-draw save by Pickford.
Liverpool created acres of space for Salah who had another snapshot, but straight at Pickford and he pulled out another good stop. At the other end, a fine cross from Digne and this time Calvert-Lewin timed his prodigious leap perfectly, directing it accurately away from Adrian and just inside the post, a fantastic goal.
Keystone cops at the other end, Pickford blocking well and Mane bizarrely glancing a goalbound shot beyond the far post. Everton attacked but Rodriguez went down, clipped by Firmino and Richarlison messed up a chance at the other end. Cards for Firmino and Allan.
Everton knew they needed to take it to the Reds but Rodriguez's cross to Adrian was woeful when he should have done much better. Liverpool went up the other end and won another dangerous free-kick, Alexander-Arnold whipping it wide of the near post.
A dreadful foul by Richarlison on Thiago after Mina had fouled Firmino saw the Everton player shown a red card, after he tried to avoid it by staying down, a ridiculous challenge by the Brazilian.
Liverpool attacked frenetically in the last 5 minutes, Hendersen driving his shot through Pickford to win the game for the hated Reds but Mane looked offide as he crossed and VAR disallowed it. Incredible.
It still wasn't over, Iwobi winning a clever free-keep deep into stoppage time. Rodriguez swung it too far and the whistle finally went on a really disappointing Everton performance with Liverpool there for the taking, and chances that will be rued.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman (32' Godfrey), Keane, Mina, Digne, Allan [Y:85'], Doucouré (77' Iwobi), Gomes [Y:69'] (71' Sigurdsson), Rodriguez [Y:45'], Richarlison [R:89'], Calvert-Lewin.
Subs not Used: Olsen, Delph, Davies, Bernard.
Liverpool: Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk (11' Gomez), Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho [Y:85'] (90' Wijnaldum), Thiago, Salah, Firmino (77' Jota), Mane [Y:67'].Subs not Used: Kelleher, Milner, Jones, Minamino.
Kick-off: 12:30pm, Saturday 17 October, 2020
Referee: Michael Oliver
VAR: David Coote
Exactly 10 years to the day since their last Merseyside derby victory, league leaders Everton will face local rivals Liverpool at Goodison Park on Saturday looking to extend their 100% start to the season.
Back on 17th October, 2010, Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta scored a goal in each half to consign the reds to a defeat that kept them in 18th place in the Premier League at a time when John Henry and his Fenway Sports Group (FSG, then known as New England Sports Ventures) were completing their takeover at Anfield.
Despite that dreadful start, Liverpool still managed to finish above Everton that season (although the Blues placed better over the following two years) and, of course, over the last decade, Henry has presided over steadily improving fortunes across the Park and built up enough power that he is now at the centre of the current furore over FSG's plans to consolidate decision-making power over all football effectively in the hands of just six clubs.
Given the large disparity in resources between the two clubs over most of the Premier League era, Everton's poor derby record isn't, perhaps, all that surprising but there has been an inferiority complex at play that has held the Toffees down psychologically for a very long time.
That may be about to change because, for the first time in 31 years, Everton go into a derby at the top of the table with four wins from four in the League and seven from seven in all competitions. Not only that, their flying start to 2020-21 has been under-pinned by some scintillating attacking football, a glut of goals and free-flowing self-belief ever since Dominic Calvert-Lewin powered in the winner at Tottenham on the opening day.
So used to approaching games against Liverpool weighted down by dread, Evertonians will look forward to this one with genuine optimism that they have a team that is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Liverpool in all departments rather than simply needing to show up with energy and a determination to stifle, contain and hope to nick one.
That was certainly the case back in June when the two teams emerged from the coronavirus shutdown with Jürgen Klopp's men closing in on the Premier League title. Carlo Ancelotti, his eyes opened by the previous meeting with Liverpool in the FA Cup in which his charges embarrassed themselves and the Badge by losing to half a team of teenagers, set his side out conservatively but, having made the champions-elect look decidedly ordinary, almost pinched the points in the second half. Had Tom Davies's shot not come back off the post, the Italian might well have been celebrating a win.
Together with Marcel Brands, Ancelotti needed more time to assemble a squad that could match up to Klopp's and, thanks to some brilliant work in the transfer market and the lift that the arrivals of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucouré and James Rodriguez in particular has given to Everton, he appears to have done so. This time, the Toffees will have plenty of threats of their own — Europe's top goalscorer included — and that ammunition will be trained on a Liverpool side that was badly wounded before the international break.
Aston Villa's stunning 7-2 destruction of the reds sent shockwaves through the footballing world and many eyes will be on how Klopp's men react to one of the most remarkable results since the inception of the Premier League 28 years ago. The German will be smarting and urging his players to come up with a response but, crucially for Everton and Liverpool's future opponents this season, the aura of invincibility that carried them to within two points of setting a record Premier League points tally in 2019-20 has been shattered.
Ancelotti will have studied the defensive problems that lay behind that defeat at Villa Park and devised ways to exploit them while Klopp will, no doubt, be cursing the fact that his best players have been away with their countries instead of at Melwood where he could work on rectifying his team's issues.
Everton should be wary of the potential backlash from a wounded animal but cognisant also of the fact that, unlike in so many previous seasons, they have brilliance and match-winners of their own — not to mention the manager to mastermind it all — that will make the reds just as wary of them as the Blues have been of the old enemy over the years.
Unfortunately, Ancelotti likely won't have his first-choice XI available to him for this one. Mason Holgate is a known medium-term absentee with an injured toe and isn't expected back until late November at the earliest but Yerry Mina is a doubt with a recurrence of the thigh issue that plagued him during “Project Restart”. He was left out of Colombia's second World Cup qualifier against Chile on Tuesday night after feeling discomfort in his right thigh and is being assessed at Finch Farm.
If he isn't passed fit, Ben Godfrey stands to get a baptism of fire with an Everton debut in the derby. The 22-year-old arrived on deadline day in a £20m deal and is surely itching to get his first game but, as he did against Spurs back in July, Ancelotti may give Mina every chance to prove his fitness by starting and taking it from there.
Then there is Lucas Digne who damaged his knee against France on Wednesday evening and had to be helped off the field just minutes after laying on the winner against Croatia for Kylian Mbappe in impressive fashion. He must be considered a significant doubt but in Niels Nkounkou Ancelotti has a highly capable deputy, although there will surely be a little uneasiness among Evertonians if two relatively untried players in the Frenchman and Godfrey are to make up 50% of the defence. Jonjoe Kenny, an unlikely starter anyway, of course, is also out for another few weeks with an ankle injury.
There was good news, however, when the manager announced via evertontv that Allan, André Gomes and Seamus Coleman are available. Two of the three missed the win over Brighton last time out and Coleman had to come off with a minor hamstring problem but they will all be in contention.
Liverpool could welcome Sadio Mané and new signing Thiago Alcantra back to their starting XI after both were forced to go into self-quarantine and miss the Villa defeat after testing positive for the coronavirus. Naby Keita is reportedly out, however, after returning a positive result himself but Joel Matip is expected to return and could replace Joe Gomez in central defence.
Klopp's biggest miss will be goalkeeper Allison Becker, though, with the Brazilian sidelined for six weeks with a shoulder injury. With his stand-in, Adrián criticised heavily for his performance at Villa Park, it means that both the reds and the Blues will have in goal players who have been less than convincing thus far, with Jordan Pickford under fire for his erraticism over the past few months.
As a result, there is a high chance that the run of three consecutive goalless Goodison derbies will come to an end this weekend and Evertonians everywhere will be hoping that their team is able to end a miserable 22-game sequence without a win over Liverpool and cement their credentials as a team to watch out for in the chase for the top four this season.
Kick-off: 12:30pm, Saturday 17 October, 2020
Referee: Michael Oliver
VAR: David Coote
Last time: Everton 0 - 0 Liverpool
Predicted Line-up*: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Gomes, Rodriguez, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
*depending on injuries