Everton vs. Liverpool: 5 Thoughts

Alex Livesey

There were talking points galore in the best Merseyside derby for years.

1. Everton were as potent in attack...

Roberto Martinez's first Merseyside derby in charge of Everton was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least the fact that after several seasons of intense but otherwise pretty dire encounters between the Toffees and their cross-city rivals, it turned out to be a fantastic match. The 3-3 draw was made all the more incredible by the fact that the Blues went in to the game on the back of two utterly toothless performances against Tottenham and Crystal Palace.

On Saturday Everton were relentless, particularly in the second half, and the forward line of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu looked constantly dangerous. But for the excellent work of Simon Mignolet, the score line would have read considerably differently, however if the Blues can muster a similar level of attacking performance in the games to come, results will inevitably begin to swing their way.

2. ... As they were fragile against set pieces.

That is, if Martinez gets his defensive house in order. As we've seen previously it's difficult to know what to make of Everton this season, both up front and at the back, and the derby raised more questions than it answered regarding the latter. All three Liverpool goals came from set pieces - two of which were eminently avoidable - which means there is some serious training ground work to be done ahead of this weekend's match up with Mark Hughes' infamously direct Stoke City side.

3. Lukaku delivers when it counts.

After two anonymous performances, Romelu Lukaku fired his way back into form by becoming the first Everton player to score a brace against Liverpool since Andy Johnson back in 2006. The Belgian took both his goals clinically, and although he might have had another when he found himself one on one with Mignolet in the second half, his hold up play and bullying of Martin Skrtl in particular contributed to an excellent overall performance.

As with Everton as a team, Lukaku's main issue this season has been consistency, but after delivering in one of the biggest matches of the campaign - which the Chelsea loanee later called his ‘best experience in club football' - there can be no doubting his ability to rise to an occasion.

4. Mirallas leaves his mark on the derby... and Luis Suarez.

Anyone who believes that Kevin Mirallas deserved anything other than a red card for his tackle on Luis Suarez is wrong. It was one of the worst challenges I've seen, and despite Phil Dowd's lenient (to put it lightly) treatment of the incident, Roberto Martinez would do well to make sure the winger curbs his aggressive streak in future.

It was unfortunate too, because the fallout over the tackle has overshadowed what was an otherwise excellent performance from the Belgian. A goal, an assist and a vital contribution to Lukaku's first strike, along with some superb forward play on both flanks, demonstrated just how important he can be to the Everton attack when on form.

5. A glimpse of life after Baines?

Though Daniel Sturridge's late equaliser prevented Everton from leaping up into the European places once again, it was the second half injury to Leighton Baines that will likely have a more profound effect on the Blues' quest for continental qualification. The left back has been ruled out for a month with a broken toe, and with David Moyes still coveting him at Manchester United, it could even be that Baines has played his last game for Everton.

Whether or not the England international moves to Old Trafford in January, Everton will have to find a deputy in the meantime. Gareth Barry dropped into the full back position out of necessity against Liverpool, but is unlikely to feature there against Stoke next week. Rather, Martinez will have to choose whether to call in Bryan Oviedo to fill Baines' shoes in the back four, or alter his system entirely and start with wing backs. Neither option is ideal, but whichever the manager decides to plump for, it will provide an interesting insight to what a post-Baines Everton might look like.

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