After watching Everton standing shellshocked at home shipping three first half goals in just a matter of minutes last weekend against a rampant Manchester City side, manager Sam Allardyce wants to ensure there will not be a repeat of that today against Merseyside Derby rivals Liverpool.
“They won’t freeze (this time) by doing their job correctly. They were scared, our players, by their (City’s) talents and the fluency of their football.
“And because they scored the three goals, certainly the two early on, that put us in great doubt about what we were doing. It took us until half-time to go out and recover. Not that it made any difference (to the outcome).
“But it made a huge difference to us that we won the second half 1-0. Everyone would have been predicting we would lose by four, five or six. We knew how to put it right and we did do.
“After the first and then when the second and third went in that’s when the fear hit the players. But after that we fought, fought and fought and tried to salvage something out of the game, in terms of showing we could cope and deal with City.
“What we have to do is do that over 90 minutes.”
Liverpool beat City at their own game midweek, attacking relentlessly and with their high pressure rushing the Champions-elect and causing them to turn the ball over. Allardyce is not going to try the same style against Liverpool, despite saying that the Toffees would have to play like the Reds to beat them, and is confident the fans are going to be okay with it.
“They were extremely patient when we played Chelsea here when we struggled to get out of our own half. They were extremely patient and supportive of the players. For what was virtually being pinned back for 90 minutes.
”I always remember what happens when you frustrate the opposition so much you can get one really good chance. Against Chelsea it fell to Michael Keane and it could have sent us all home happier than what were with a 0-0. Michael unfortunately headed it over the bar.
“Really, the approach has to be about nullifying their attacking options because they are exceptional.
“When I first got here we were proud of no goals against, and I think we have lost that side of our game at the moment by trying to open up and play a little bit more, if can call it, attractive football... whatever you want to call it: open and expansive football. Creative football.
“It’s much like what we did at Anfield first and then making sure we maximise possession — we were pleased to get a draw there.”
Fans remember both games only too well as they remain two of the dullest spectacles in a season that has had plenty of low points. It’s looking like we’re going to be in for another defensive rearguard action today, despite the knowledge that another Derby loss would lead to the embarrassing statistic that Liverpool would have won more games at Goodison in all competitions between the two than Everton.
“Don’t tell me that! I might use that tomorrow for the lads. I don’t think they need any extra motivation, to be fair. I don’t think that is something we can let happen, if at all possible.
“It’s a very interesting stat and one I would rather not have heard of. But it’s there for us all to see. And hopefully by the end of the game it’s not a factor.”