Was it to be a good game for the sake of Gareth Barry? Who was breaking records featuring in his 590th premier league game. Or at least a better result than the draws we’ve seen between them in the past couple of years? Yes, 6 out of past 7 games have ended in draws. Of course if you’re a Liverpool faithful the omens are with you because the last time Everton won at Anfield was in the 1999.
Anyway, times have changed, Steven Gerrard is now on another continent playing for another club who for the first time in this millennium isn’t involved in a Merseyside derby, Luis Suarez now plays for Barcelona (who finished a crucial game against Deportivo on the same evening, scoring 4 classy goals and assisting three times. Yes, all in one game), players have come and gone and so have managers. Manager actually. Liverpool’s last victory over bitter rivals Everton came under Brendan Rogers who was replaced by the German pioneer, Jurgen Klopp earlier in the season. It has only taken him six months to have developed a high status at his new club.
Beating his former club and knocking them out of the Europa League only last week was quite literally only an icing on top of the cake, keeping in mind of course all the effort and hard work he has put in to the club in these six months. It is quite clear that the Reds have taken their game up by a notch. Or maybe more than just a notch. Not only does every player in red put in more effort than they did early on in the season but they also manage to keep their heads straight and play some creative and smart football. They’ve become all the more creative and destructive in their attack.
As predicted, Liverpool started hard and strong. Though chances were enjoyed at both ends, anyone could say that Liverpool had the better of them having had at least two clear one on ones against Everton goal keeper Joel Robles who came out stronger and held his team goalless till almost the end of the half. Well yes, almost.
Divock Origi opened the tally for the night after he perfectly and powerfully pushed himself up and headed home from a beautiful picking by Liverpool’s unsung hero James Milner, leaving John Stones helplessly watching after the ball as it sailed in to the net for 1-0 on the brink of half time.
Milner who is known for his crazy effort and consistency in games has been outstanding for the Reds this season. After assisting Mamadou Sakho with another brilliant play and cross with Adam Lallana, he has now involved himself with 21 goals for the team with 7 goals and 14 assists. Anfield have taken a serious liking towards Sakho whom many see as a new club hero. The Anfield faithful cheer almost every touch he gets on the ball these days.
That’s six more than Mesut Ozil in 2016 also six more than the entire Aston Villa squad since the turn of the year. Surely the king of assists for the latter half of the season but also the best free transfer in the history of the league? Having captained the side with the regular candidate Jordan Henderson sidelined due to injury, it is entirely apt to say that he was amazing as skipper for the Reds winning his first Merseyside derby 4-0. Though he picked up a booking within the first eight minutes of the game and made way for Jordan Ibe on the 80th minute mark leaving his team a man and four goals to the good, with the help of another class part performance, the 30-year-old picked up the man-of-the-match award.
Origi made way for Daniel Sturridge after he was stretchered off the pitch having been on the receiving end of a horrible and almost leg breaking tackle from frustrated defender Ramiro Funes Mori who was unarguably sent off for the challenge, taking the tally of red cards to a whopping 21 between the two teams (most in any fixture in the Premier League).
Sturridge came on and quickly made it 3 goals to the good with a sublime finish right in front of Joel Robles after picking up on a peach of an interception and pass from Lucas Leiva who picked up on a sloppy pass from Everton’s John Stones who was later confirmed by their manager to have had stomach cramps who left the field almost immediately walked through the tunnel forcing Martinez to pull two of his midfielders in to defensive positions having lost both his preferred centre backs. Sturridge scored his 50th goal for Liverpool in 87 appearances. Though he stubbornly claimed to have score even the fourth, there was little or no debate as to who actually deserved it. He has now scored more goals in the Premier League against Everton than against any other team (6).
If the game wasn’t already over for Everton, having lost a player and conceded three, Liverpool’s very own top scorer for the season Philippe Coutinho stepped up and converted a beauty to add to the score sheet and seal the deal for another famous 4-0 victory over arch-rivals at Anfield. Coutinho has been a part of both squads that have beaten Everton by 4 goals which is also the best figure Liverpool have ever managed. Surely in the right lane of becoming one of Liverpool’s best and brightest.
As these events were transpiring on the pitch, Anfield was shredding Everton to bits with their jeers and cheers, booing at every Everton interception and cheering on every Liverpool pass right until the end of the game and perhaps even beyond. This also took reflection in some of the players who kept pushing forward until the final whistle was blown. Lucas Leiva felt safe enough to pull a shot from long range while Sakho held nothing back from going in with a crunching but clean tackle next to Evertons corner flag even as the game was done and dusted.
It couldn’t get any worse for Everton, Not only losing by four goals to their rivals but also losing two centre backs. Martinez who had a fantastic first season with the toffees has been facing heavy criticism even before the game. Everton’s two heaviest Premier League Merseyside derby defeats have both been under Roberto Martinez and both at Anfield (4-0 in January 2014). With an FA cup semi-final to play this coming weekend against Manchester United and his job on the line, Martinez is certainly going to be in centre of the radar in the near future.
For Klopp, it just cannot get any better at the moment. Having beaten his former club just a week ago and, winning away to Bournemouth with a B team, his first Merseyside derby victory over Everton in such a dramatic fashion could only testify to the fact that he is indeed one of the greatest managers in this time. He’s been getting the best out of his players and the best part is that everyone seems to be a part of it. The whole of Anfield, the fans of the club throughout the world, the officials at the club and of course the players, everybody seems to be in a grand unison at the moment.
Liverpool had 37 attempts on goal to Everton’s three. The visitors didn’t force Simon Mignolet into a single save. The Reds also enjoyed 67 per cent possession and had 64 touches in the opposition box compared to Everton’s humble three.
Liverpool have been unbeaten in the past 11 Premier League Merseyside derbies (W4 D7 L0) and have also erased an unconvincing statistic of not having won back-to-back games at Anfield in the Premier League since May 2015.
Some comments, quotes and videos post the new-unforgettable game at Anfield :
Roberto Martinez : “Pity we didn’t cope with the emotions of the occasion and we didn’t control ourselves well enough.”
Mamadou Sakho : on scoring goals, “I did it but it’s not my first job, I try to concentrate on my style in defence for my team.”
Jurgen Klopp : “To be honest I could say it was really difficult but the second half wasn’t.”
“Everything is okay – apart from Divock,” he added. “Usually after 4-0 I don’t know how to keep my smile off my face but today is pretty easy.
Daniel Sturridge and James Milner :