It’s understandable if you were frustrated by Sam Allardyce’s game plan in this match, but frankly, it worked.
Everton put in an incredibly committed and brave defensive performance, which was nearly undone by a moment of magic by Mohamed Salah. However, a defensive mistake by Dejan Lovren ensured the Blues escaped with a result. What a match.
- Big Sam made two major changes in this match. Oumar Niasse drew in for Aaron Lennon, and the first half formation was a 4-4-2 instead of the 4-1-4-1 that we had briefly become accustomed to. For a spell, the two banks of four and long balls out had Liverpool searching for answers.
- Jonjoe Kenny: proper scouser. The kid said before the match that he’d give up his World Cup trophy for a win at Anfield, and he played like it. After one particularly vibrant tackle, Kenny leapt into the air and applauded. Well done, lad.
- All the good defending in the first half was for naught when Mo Salah took the dignity from Cuco Martina and Idrissa Gueye. The curled shot was unstoppable.
- In large part because of the defensive gameplan, Everton’s open play attack never got moving. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse were up for the match, but received no help.
- At halftime, Allardyce worked some magic. Morgan Schneiderlin and Aaron Lennon entered for Tom Davies and Oumar Niasse, and both were excellent. Lennon gave Andy Robertson all sorts of problems down the right, while helping Kenny defensively. Schneiderlin looks a changed man, in part due to Big Sam and perhaps too because he got some game time on Thursday.
- Everton’s goal, while a penalty (that Wayne Rooney absolutely HAMMERED past Simon Mignolet), was the result of Allardyce’s game plan. With Liverpool having so much of the ball, it made sense that Rooney or Sigurdsson would have an opportunity to pick out one of the forwards on the break. Sure enough, Rooney played a nice pass into DCL, and Dejan Lovren (of course) shoved him to the ground.
- Let’s be clear - Everton’s performance in this match was not reason to be discouraged. The lack of possession and by proxy attack was almost assuredly by design. Liverpool had the majority of the chances, but most of them weren’t great. Jurgen Klopp’s bizarre team selection helped, too.
West Ham: win. Huddersfield: win. Apollon: win. Liverpool: draw. The Blues are on the up, and it’s tactical sensibility combined with a newfound desire that’s taking them higher in the table.
Jonjoe Kenny and Idrissa Gueye are likely the main contenders for man of the match, but nearly everyone put in a proper shift - even Ashley Williams and Mason Holgate. There can be no truer side of a club heading back in the right direction, and so, Newcastle United beware. Up the damn Toffees.