No one is surprised. Could anyone have truly believed that Everton, and their thin squad of players, could walk into Anfield and get anything from a Liverpool team that is desperate to remain the top four of the Premier League? For another year, Merseyside is red as Liverpool battered Everton 3-1 on Saturday.
Due to various injuries over the international break, Everton boss Ronald Koeman was forced to put together a very young starting XI that included Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies, Mason Holgate and Matthew Pennington. In short: the youth and inexperience was exposed in the derby.
Calvert-Lewin was mostly non-existent on the left wing and part of the reason Romelu Lukaku had nearly no support all day. Davies is an outstanding player, but he had a bad match and doesn’t seem to pair well with Idrissa Gueye in the midfield as they both like to chase the ball around the pitch. Holgate had some nice moments going forward but is a liability at the back. And Pennington produced Everton’s lone moment of magic, but was a travesty on defense, showing why Koeman had kept him away from the senior squad most of the season.
Onto Ross Barkley. Like Davies, he is a wonderful footballer and a true Blue. But he was poor on this day and probably deserved to be sent off in the first half following a rash challenge that could have broken an ankle. This is a recurring problem for Barkley. It’s clear that this fixture means a lot to him, which should be appreciated. However, he lets the emotions take hold of him and he tries to beat Liverpool single handedly; hogging the ball, making poor decisions and diving into tackles. He’s not a kid anymore. He needs to show more composure, set an example and be a leader on the pitch.
Another point of contention from this match seems to be goalkeeper Joel Robles. On two of Liverpool’s three goals, Robles appeared to be in a poor position without his feet set as the shot was taken. On both, it would have taken a nice save to prevent a goal, but the replays make Robles look ill prepared to deal with any type of attempt on goal. He needs to do better.
But let’s talk about the one good thing that come from this match: Pennington’s first Premier League goal. It was a scrappy effort, but it gave the Blues hope for all but a moment before Philippe Coutinho immediately dashed it.
The Pennington goal came off of a lovely corner from Leighton Baines. The delivery found Phil Jagielka at the near post. He flicked the ball on with his head and it landed right at the feet of Ashley Williams. Williams couldn’t get his feet quite right and the ball sort of bounced away from him, making it a sitter for Pennington, who poked it past Simon Mignolet for the equalizer.
Apart from that, there was little to be happy about in this rendition of the derby. Liverpool remain the superior side from top to bottom. But there is evidence that the gap is closing, and with a full squad Everton would have put up a better fight.
Just keep telling yourself that this is only year one of Koeman’s reign. There will be better days. He will bring in players that can win against Liverpool and the other “big” clubs. Baby steps.
But at least James Bond was there.