Here’s three thoughts to take away from Sunday’s eerie Merseyside derby:
Compact defence keeps a clean sheet
Coming off of a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Everton defence certainly held their own against Liverpool. Carlo Ancelotti’s side looked content to let Liverpool maintain possession for the majority of the game and jump on their chances when they came. But despite the possession disparity, the shot totals were nearly equal and Everton rarely let Liverpool threaten Jordan Pickford.
Despite their solid defensive form, Everton did have their fair share of close calls. As the match wore on, Liverpool started to find players open on the wing. A number of well-weighted passes seemed at times to put Everton on their heels, but some great organisation saw most of those chances stifled.
Fresh off a long layoff, it was heartening to see the Everton defence look so organised. Especially against a team with such a threatening attack. Everton will need to keep this defensive form for the remainder of the season and the goals will eventually come.
Close calls fail to break the deadlock
Even though Everton only had 30 per cent possession, they did threaten to take the lead late in the second half. Within a minute Everton saw two excellent chances go to waste. But Tom Davies’ 79th-minute chance was the closest to going in. An excellent low cross by Richarlison saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin try to back-heel the ball past Alisson, the rebound found Tom Davies streaking in, but his deflected shot hit the post and was cleared away.
The ensuing corner saw Mason Holgate head the ball onto Calvert-Lewin, and his header went wide. For how much Liverpool controlled the pace of this match, it was great to see Everton find their chances and keep the match interesting. Both sides often looked sloppy, but those near misses really sting as more time passes since the last time Everton have won a Merseyside Derby.
It may be silly to complain about a draw against a team with only one loss and coming on the heels of an extended layoff. But these draws against Liverpool are completely unsatisfying. I don’t care how good an opposing team is, once in a while Everton need to do something to pull off an upset.
Even against some of the great Manchester City sides we have seen in recent years, Everton have been able to pull off a shock upset. As much as I’d love to see this side inch their way up the table and back into European football, I’d rather see them beat Liverpool. It’ll be ten years in October since Everton have last won a Merseyside Derby. If Carlo Ancelotti can finally get this side to gut out a win and break this awful winless streak, he may ensure a knighthood in the eyes of Evertonians.