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Everton 0-0 Liverpool: Instant Reaction

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The Toffees managed to not lose to Liverpool this season. That's got to count for something, right?

This disagreement brought some energy into what was at times a lifeless match.
This disagreement brought some energy into what was at times a lifeless match.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

While the 224th Merseyside Derby was not particularly intriguing, to be brutally honest, it has left Evertonians with plenty to ponder.

Neither team played its best football of the season, which simultaneously leaves both sets of supporters relieved they were not taken advantage of, but also disappointed not to take all three points.

Here are some quick thoughts on what we just saw:

What Happened in the Second Half?

To say that Everton were great in the first half would be an exaggeration. But, the Toffees were decent at the very least, and appeared on course to challenge Liverpool in the second half.

Things did not materialize that way. For whatever reason, the Everton that played the first 30 minutes of the second half was January's Everton -- slow to make decisions, poor in clearing defensively, below average in passing, all while completely isolating the attackers.

In the last 15 or so minutes, there was some improvement from the Blues of Merseyside, particularly after some changes were made, but it came too late. Seamus Coleman's 87th minute shot was the team's only real chance of the match.

Substitution Questions

Once again, Roberto Martinez's substitutions must be questioned.

The 60th minute introduction of Aaron Lennon was a smart move by Martinez, but by bringing him on for Mirallas, he changed nothing of consequence in the side. Lennon brings more pace than Mirallas perhaps, but the setup of the team was such that Naismith and Lukaku were going to continue to be isolated.

And for 25 minutes, that is exactly what happened. Lennon's pace helped the Toffees create one or two chances, but for the most part, the attackers remained isolated.

Martinez used his final two substitutions in the 85th minute, which is absolute folly. For any player, particularly one of the playmaking ability of Ross Barkley, more time is necessary to make a true impact on the match.

At the same time, Martinez also brought on Antolin Alcaraz for Muhamed Besic. Frankly, I still am trying to figure out how I feel about a formation change so late in a match. Allowing Seamus Coleman to get farther up the pitch was an obvious plus, but changing the defensive shape of a side that appears to be finally finding some consistency was worrying as well.

Either way, the removal of Besic instead of Gareth Barry was utter nonsense. Gareth Barry still has a role to play on this team, and although he was poor in possession today, he ultimately did what he was asked to do -- defend.

But, sending a message to a young player such as Besic that no matter how well you play (which was incredibly well, mind you) you will still be second favorite to an older player will certainly not encourage the Bosnian.

Defensive Play Improving

Everton have now gone three straight matches without conceding a goal, which is worth celebrating.

The Toffees did a good job of limiting Liverpool's chances, even during a second half in which they did not play particularly well overall. Surely the inclusion of all three of Besic, Barry, and James McCarthy helped in that.

Though it is narrow-minded to think that the reemergence of John Stones is the only reason for the team's improve defensive play, it is clear that it is the biggest contributor. His play has been miles above that of either Sylvain Distin or Alcaraz, while Phil Jagielka looks a much more confident defender when Stones is in the lineup.

Though the lack of goal scoring chances recently is a cause for concern, it is good to see the Toffees defend strongly, particularly against a decent attacking side like Liverpool.