It’s taken five managers for Everton to finally beat Liverpool on their own patch. Is it a surprise to anyone that manager is one Carlo Ancelotti, who has lifted just about every trophy available?
Speaking after the Blues’ victory at Anfield on Saturday evening, Ancelotti was thrilled for the long-suffering fanbase that has had to endure 21 years of futility on away fixtures of the Merseyside Derby, but also adding that he was bemused why the Blues have not been able to play like this at Goodison Park.
“I am really pleased and happy for the Club and the supporters. I couldn’t imagine if they [Evertonians] were here… I hope, for sure, they are going to celebrate tonight, the players are really happy.
“It was a good performance, with a lot of effort, built with good spirit, strong defensive work and clinical in front.
“It is really difficult to understand why at home we are not able to do the same. I don’t know, we have to work on this - the run away is fantastic, at home, it’s not good enough.
“I am proud of my team, my players, they are working hard. I think they deserve this moment because this a squad that did not have this kind of moment too often.”
What was Ancelotti’s biggest takeaway from this win, knowing that despite the history behind the achievement is tempered by the fact that this is just three points at the end of the day and another 14 games are still left to play in the league season.
“This game said to us that we can compete, we can compete with teams with different attitude and different quality. Maybe Liverpool has more technical quality than us, but I think we were competitive in spirt and defensively.
“We have to keep improving, especially when we have the ball. I think we got back the three points we lost at home against Fulham.”
After a stretch of time with Everton playing twice a week, the Blues will now have a break of eight days before returning to action at home against Southampton.
“This is a good period for us to train and prepare well for the next game. It’s a good time to give a rest to some players who have been working really hard in this period.
“Now it’s time to celebrate a little bit, but only tonight!”
Ancelotti rolled out a flexible formation that saw the Blues fall to a five-man backline when out of possession, with Seamus Coleman moving up into a wide midfield role when Everton had the ball. Indeed the Blues opener came with long balls up forward which was a welcome change from trying to play out of the back.
“We played with two strikers – with Coleman to fix a little bit the position of [attacking Liverpool left-back] Andrew Robertson, three midfielders and four at the back to control, [Sadio] Mane, Salah and [Roberto] Firmino.
“We wanted to avoid the pressure from Liverpool because we know they press a lot. But, sometimes, we had the possibility to play and had a good combination.”
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had an excellent return to the pitch making a number of key saves after missing the last couple of weeks with an abdominal injury.
“Really secure and confident in the goal. It was a top performance, but honestly the four in the back played at a top level as well.
“This is the Jordan Pickford everyone knows - he was intelligent and confident. He was secure in goal.”
Richarlison continued his good form with Dominic Calvert-Lewin out of starting lineup, scoring again after just two minutes had elapsed today.
“He is back. Richarlison finally is back, because he’s started to score with consistency.
“Also his performance was really good, he started to combine with James Rodriguez, who was also fantastic tonight, even though he’s not at 100% at this moment.”