A small hop across Stanley Park for the blue half of the Liverpool footballing fraternity combined with the carrot of the bragging rights of the city might have been the ideal game to inject a fresh impetus for the remainder of Everton’s season. A lacklustre home record this season has positioned them in a underwhelming league position and has heaped pressure on Roberto Martinez. Unfortunately for the fans and for Martinez, that impetus was not forthcoming and the derby resulted in a demolition.
Considering Everton face a tough FA Cup Semi-Final fixture this week the line up was a strong one. Martinez may have been forgiven for resting a few of his key players with that in mind, perhaps the fact that the pride of the city was at stake in addition to the delivery status of his P45 made up his mind for him and went for as full strength a line up as possible.
The only real talking point for Liverpool prior to kick off was Daniel Sturbridge’s omission from the starting line up and swapped with a slightly less attractive position on the bench where he would get to see Divock Origi prove that Liverpool’s transfer policy isn’t entirely flawed. The rest of the Liverpool team was an equally strong one with no real surprises and league and European form players remain.
The game started as any derby match should – competitive with a hint of nerves but only one side would remain competitive and it wasn’t the away team, they were left with the nerves. Prior to the deadlock being broken on forty three minutes viewers in the stands and at home might have been wondering how it had stayed at nil nil for the majority of the first half. Rarely do you see such space and freedom of movement in a Merseyside derby but this was exactly what Liverpool were being afforded, twice the home side were through on goal with barely an Everton player within touching distance. Liverpool had been wasteful but Everton just woeful. Sakho made it two nil from a James Milner left foot cross right on the stroke of half time and both teams went into the break with very different perspectives on the game.
Insult was to meet injury in more ways than one and with Gareth Barry taken off at half time due to Injury that only further diminished Everton’s hopes of not only clearing their heads but also attempting to make the game a competitive one once again. The insult came on fifty minutes when Everton centre half Funes-Mori was sent off for a reckless tackle on Origi who was then replaced by Sturridge as a result of that challenge to which Funes-Mori appeared to take great pride in, as he left the field of play clutching the badge on his shirt and gesticulating towards the Everton fans he was probably not thinking about the further trouble he had left his team in and how the fans might not actually appreciate one of their players taking a form of delight and pride at being sent off.
The next forty minutes played out exactly as any football fan would expect, attack versus defence and a routine performance and outcome. The sending off was the straw that broke the camels back and Ross Barkley was next to leave the field as part of an enforced tactical reshuffle and so went the final element of any creativity. Romelu Lukaku remained on the field but was highly ineffective against an imperious partnership of Lovren and Sakho, they had merely picked up from where they left off against Dortmund and the pair finally seem to be finding their feet at Liverpool. Displays like this will certainly help endear them further to the Kop.
Goals from Sturridge and Coutinho now confirmed the destruction but the fact of the matter is that Everton got off lightly in terms of the scoreline. Liverpool players were lining up to take pot shots and with more finesse and clinical finishing it could have easily been eight instead of four. The sound of ‘Ole’ rang around Anfield repetitively on eighty minutes and the exodus of away support had long since started – who could blame them. The destruction was complete.
Nothing was learnt from this derby game but plenty was reinforced. Everton have struggled this season and continue to do so. Roberto martinez is going to need a miracle to survive now and FA Cup success is not only unlikely, based on tonights performance, but it also doesn’t guarantee Martinez a future at Goodison. The same applies for Liverpool in terms of reinforcing what we know. No Sturridge – No problem. Under Klopp there has been a gradual improvement individually and collectively – Origi being one example. Big names are not important to Klopp, just big hearts and big lungs.
The red side of Liverpool have claimed the bragging rights of the city this time but ignoring the scoreline it turned out to be a very routine win for the reds and a derby demolition Everton will want to forget in a hurry.
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