Unofficial Merseyside Derby Recap

Let's start with the good news: Everton didn't lose against the other team from Liverpool this season. But the bad news are that we could've won at Anfield for the first time in over 11 years but didn't.

Both teams' lineups featured rather unknown names for casual fans. The Reds missed Everton fan Jamie Carragher (shoulder injury) and LFC legend Steven Gerrard because of a suspension, those two were replaced by the young Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing who played a more defensive role than Gerrard usually does.

The Toffees had to play without Tim Cahill who represents Australia at the 2011 Asian Cup, Phil Jagielka, Louis Saha (both out with a thigh injury) and Steven Pienaar whose transfer to Tottenham seems to be a done deal by now. Leon Osman started at Pienaar's left midfield position and Victor Anichebe was Jermaine Beckford's new partner up front. At least that what we thought he'd be, in reality he's proving to be more of a left winger/midfielder than a striker. That caused both him and Osman (especially the latter) to play a subpar first half since having two men standing around at the same position hardly works.

The first half started with a Torres shot after nine seconds that was saved by Tim Howard. Both teams wanted to score first but Everton couldn't create any great scoring chance (very dangerous set-pieces aside) and Liverpool couldn't beat Howard (or the post).

30 minutes were played when Reds left back Glen Johnson got the ball, played a long cross to Dirk Kuyt who shot the ball twice but had to watch Howard make two good saves. Unfortunately, the ball went exactly to Raul Meireles who bombed the ball past Leighton Baines and Howard to score his first goal of the season and the first of the match. LFC had some more decent scoring chances, a stunned Everton couldn't do much more than getting free kicks and corner kicks. Challenging Pepe Reina from open play was something unknown in the first half. But at least the Blues didn't concede a second goal.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was being forced to react, an apparently injured Daniel Agger had to be replaced by Sotirios Kyrgiakos. While the Greek was still getting used to the pitch (and probably half of the audience were still waiting for a beer), Everton got a corner kick not even a minute into the second half. Mikel Arteta's beautiful cross found the Sylvain Distin who headed the ball with so much power that Glen Johnson couldn't clear it off the line, 1-1.

Suddenly it was all Everton. I couldn't spot any tactical difference so I guess it was the early goal that boosted their confidence. The same guys who struggled not to lose late in the first half now absolutely dominated their opponent.

Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe improved drastically as well and were a huge part of the second goal just minutes later. Anichebe beat Kelly in the air, Osman played an outstanding pass to Jermaine Beckford who finished the job like a real Premier League striker. The Blues turned the match around in about seven minutes.

Now Liverpool started attacking again, wild and sometimes slightly desperated attempts compared to the calm style of play Everton now could demonstrate.

Almost 70 minutes were played when the otherwise brilliant Tim Howard made a mistake and unnecessarily fouled Maxi Rodriguez from behind in the box. Dirk Kuyt converted the penalty kick and the match was tied again. A bit lucky at that time but all in all a deserved result. David Moyes later changed the formation to a 'real' 4-5-1 when he introduced Jack Rodwell and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov for Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe (also, James Vaughan played the last 20 minutes as the main striker but that didn't change much besides the 22-year old moving to the left wing too often, similar to what Anichebe does), this however didn't have any effect on the result.

Despite having both teams fighting for three points and the glory of the city of Liverpool, this match was a fair one. Only three yellow cards were awarded (Pepe Reina, Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt). Both teams could have won but in the end tried to avoid a loss which isn't a terrible idea considering what the standings look like.


David Moyes:

We never really got started in the first half. We were a bit fortunate only to come in 1-0 down at half time but while it was at that we were always in the game, and it was a great reaction from the players after half time which got us back in it. I thought we had a couple of half-chances to make it 3-1. The ball was played into people in the box and we didn't take it. You can always be left ruing that but we were the better team in the second half, we played well in the second half and we actually come away feeling a bit disappointed that we didn't take all three points.


For a more play-by-play like recap, visit ToffeeWeb.

For a tactical report of the derby, read ZonalMarking's article.

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