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Everton 2–2 Liverpool: Three Thoughts | Derby drama as Everton stay atop league table

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Three thoughts from the 237th Merseyside Derby

Everton v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The wait continues. On the tenth anniversary, to the date (October 17), of the last time Everton defeated Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby, the Toffees managed to avoid one sending off and a late goal, thanks to VAR.

Pickford’s Performance

For all the criticism he receives, Jordan Pickford had a solid performance against Liverpool; England’s number one couldn’t do much on either of Liverpool’s goals. He faced a total of eight shots on target, making a smart save on Trent Alexander-Arnold, stifling the right-back’s attempt, then from a Liverpool corner, Pickford made an even better reaction save on Joel Matip. His last memorable save came against Sadio Mané, as Pickford prevented a second strike from the forward.

Had it not been for Pickford, the point would have been lost altogether. Had it also not been for Pickford, Virgil van Dijk would not be facing ACL surgery and an undisclosed recovery period. While it was clearly not malicious, Pickford was fortunate not to see a straight red for a horrific slice of the Dutch defender’s right knee, and he was even luckier VAR took away a 94th minute goal — a shot that hit Pickford’s palm and flipped into the back of the net, a mistake we see him making more often than not in the last couple of years.

Blues see Red

The Merseyside Derby has seen more red cards (22) than any other Premier League fixture — Richarlison clearly hadn’t gotten the memo. Of the 15 red cards Everton have been handed against Liverpool, Richarlison’s was well earned. A late tackle that had the potential to snap a leg, Thiago — the unfortunate recipient of Richarlison’s “gift” — thankfully was able to keep playing. I’m not quite sure what Richarlison was protesting as he walked off the pitch; maybe he was just angry that he’ll now be forced to miss three games.

As much grit and intensity as is involved in a Merseyside Derby, tackles such as Richarlison’s are never welcome — a three-game ban seems just. For all his talent, he does tend to get carried away by emotion often, and this suspension until the next international break is going to irk the player as much as it does Carlo Ancelotti and the fanbase.

Milestones

It was clear that the Reds missed van Dijk’s aerial presence — just ask Joe Gomez and Andy Robertson. In the 81st, Dominic Calvert-Lewin received a sublime cross from the left side — courtesy of Lucas Digne, who else — and leapt over both Gomez and Robertson, swiftly redirecting the ball back across the face of goal, past a diving Adrián. For the first time, an Everton player has scored in the first five Premier League games of the season. With ten goals in all competitions and one goal for England, Calvert-Lewin simply can’t be stopped.

When Ben Godfrey signed for the Toffees on deadline day, the young Englishman surely couldn’t have imagined his Everton debut would come in the Merseyside Derby, but then, injuries are ever unpredictable. When Seamus Coleman was forced to leave in the 31st minute with another hamstring issue, Godfrey, typically a center-back, assumed the right side of Everton’s defense. Despite playing as a fullback, Godfrey’s prior experience in the Premier League with Norwich City served the 22-year-old well. He had the difficult task of tracking Mané and Robertson, but overall defended well. He also had a pristine run down the right wing at one point, flashing his confidence and strength in possession — not bad for your debut at Goodison.