Liverpool had chances to win it, but this intense Merseyside derby failed to produce any goals despite Jurgen Klopp’s attacking lineup, meaning it’s just two wins from the opening six games.
Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Premier League, Goodison Park
September 3, 2022
Klopp’s bold decisions…
Fabio Carvalho’s late winner against Newcastle meant he was pushing for a start in this game, and Klopp obliged, though it was still something of a surprise to see such an attacking lineup in a game of this nature.
The threats came when Carvalho and Elliott were able to drop between the lines to receive the ball, but these moments didn’t come often enough.
“A real derby, super intense,” remarked Klopp post-match. Was the decision to play Elliott and Carvalho together in midfield ever really going to work in such a game?!
Carvalho was subbed at halftime due to injury, but it wasn’t necessarily a defensive move as Roberto Firmino was the man who replaced him.
Though that initial lineup didn’t quite work out, there were good signs for the future in games that might be a bit less frantic and more controlled.
Tsimikas heavily involved
The spotlight can fall on certain players during a derby match. All it takes is a couple of flashpoints or a battle with an opposing player, and this is what happened to Kostas Tsimikas.
He came out on top in his battle with Anthony Gordon, and the Everton winger eventually switched wings.
The Greek full-back was a useful attacking threat and his set-piece delivery was more consistent than it had been in his substitute appearances so far this season.
He also had an opportunity to score at the start of the second half, but the angle was very difficult for a left-footer and it was no surprise to see it drift well wide.
Kostas showed he is a genuine alternative to Andy Robertson, even in high-pressure games.
5 subs – but did it work?
The introduction of Firmino at halftime and Klopp’s double fullback replacement on the hour mark certainly changed the dynamic of this game.
The Brazilian added some tidiness to midfield, but any sense of control didn’t last for long as the match became as end-to-end as a basketball game.
The Reds had a number of big chances, so in that sense, the changes worked, but Everton threatened on the counter, with Gray and Gordon breezing past Milner on a couple of occasions.
The subs certainly made the game a more entertaining one and ultimately gave Liverpool a chance to win the game. If just one of those attempts was a couple of inches on either side of Pickford, they surely would have.
The second round of subs had the opposite effect and took the pace out of the game, but Liverpool still had the chance to win it late on but couldn’t quite get over the line.
Stars out of sorts
Though they have been among the best players in world football in recent years, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, and Mohamed Salah haven’t enjoyed the best or most fruitful starts to the season.
In Salah’s case, it’s not really through a lack of trying, and he has still managed to contribute to goals, but he doesn’t quite look to have settled into that prolific attacking form that has seen him score for fun in previous seasons.
Van Dijk has been decent enough, though not his imperious best, and Joe Gomez has been Liverpool’s best defender at the start of this season.
Alexander-Arnold has been hit and (more) miss in the opening games of this campaign, and will be disappointed with his form.
This is probably a hangover from last season when these players were heavily involved throughout without much of a summer break, but if Liverpool are to challenge for honours this season these key players need to get back into their groove before it’s far too late.
Six points off the top after six games played, with others having a game in hand, you might argue it’s already too late.
Strong rotation options pre-Napoli
Once fit, Ramsay might have a good chance of some minutes given Trent’s recent form.
This depth will be vital now there are two games per week, and the addition of just one player, Arthur, can make such a big difference, just as Diaz’s signing did earlier in the year.
We need cohesion though, and that looks a long way off.