Ugly but effective tactical set up
One thing that cannot be expected from a Sam Allardyce managed team is beautiful free-flowing football. Honestly, this match called for exactly what the new Everton manager deployed in his 4-4-2 set up. Knowing that an attack heavy game plan would leave Everton vulnerable to counter-attacks from Liverpool’s high-paced offense, Allardyce opted to sit back and absorb the opposing attack.
This plan undoubtedly lead to an ugly performance by Everton, but allowing only one goal from a team that just put up seven goals on Spartak Moscow is a pretty good result. Ceding nearly 80% of possession to Liverpool meant that Everton’s defense had to endure wave after wave of attacks. However, the defense was uncharacteristically poised and limited the danger of Liverpool’s 23 shots and allowed only three on goal. Jonjoe Kenny in particular was a shot-blocking superstar and saved Everton from allowing more goals on a few occasions.
Everton show resilience after Salah goal
After absorbing loads of pressure throughout the first half, Everton’s defense finally broke when a Mohamed Salah curler found the top corner of the net. In the past, this Everton team would have crumbled after allowing a goal, but instead showed some impressive resilience and continued to defend hard against a dangerous opponent.
Like many, I have been conditioned to have a negative mindset this season. Under Ronald Koeman and David Unsworth, this team has not shown the ability to recover after letting up goals. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if this match had ended 4-0. While Everton’s attack never really found any footing until late in the match, they continued to limit Liverpool’s chances and certainly got lucky a few times.
Given the current make up of this squad, it may not be realistic to expect Everton to mount a two or three goal comeback at Anfield, but buckling down and preventing further goals is a perfectly reasonable expectation for this team. They accomplished that task and can hopefully continue to right the ship in the coming weeks.
DCL and Rooney save the day
Was Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s penalty call soft and erroneous? Maybe, but I couldn’t care less if it means not losing to Liverpool again. It may have been the second controversial penalty call for Everton in the last few weeks, but it is nice to have the calls go our way for once.
Good call or not, Wayne Rooney stepped up to the penalty spot with blood as cold as the snow falling on Anfield and tied the match up. Unsurprisingly, this was a huge boost for Everton and the team suddenly found an opening to attack. The last 15 minutes of the match were fairly exciting and more even despite Everton having to fend off some last ditch attacks from Liverpool. In the end a draw is better than a loss and Everton have two more Merseyside Derby’s to grab those elusive three points.