As far as footballing spectacles go, the Merseyside Derby as a Saturday early kickoff was never going to be one for the ages. However, the performance Everton put in is going to be one that Frank Lampard points to when he’s talking about how he is changing things on the Blue half of Merseyside. In the end the 0-0 scoreline was fair to both sides even though both clubs will know they could have won this one too.
Lampard put in new signing Neal Maupay straight into the thick of things giving him the start with Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon on either side of him. Amadou Onana, Tom Davies and Alex Iwobi formed the middle three as the Blues look to have abandoned the 3-4-3 formation, with Nathan Patterson, Conor Coady, James Tarkowski and Vitaliy Mykolenko lined up in front of captain Jordan Pickford.
Your starting XI to take on Liverpool! pic.twitter.com/0zh91Dm9MS— Everton (@Everton) September 3, 2022
The Reds started the game on the front foot controlling the ball, but the Blues roared on by the home crowd soon got into gear with a couple of chances for Onana and then Maupay. The visitors tried to move the ball around but a combination of Everton’s press and poor passing put paid to that. Patterson and Luis Diaz was certainly one of the simmering storylines to the first half, as was the battle between Gordon and Konstantinos Tsimikas, but it was Onana who was booked first for going through Fabio Carvalho.
Everton then came closest to opening the scoring from Davies hitting the inside of the post after Maupay had dispossessed Virgil van Dijk in his own box at the half hour mark. Liverpool controlled the remainder of the half though with some sustained attacks, first Pickford saving very well from Darwin Nunez pushing his shot onto the bar before Diaz collected the rebound and hit the inside of the far post with a curling effort. The Blues held firm for the remainder of the time and the scoreline stayed level at the break.
Jurgen Klopp made the first changes, and striker Roberto Firmino could have changed the course of the game were it not for Pickford’s brilliance later on. Liverpool enjoyed their best spell of the game in the second half and threw on Andrew Robertson and James Milner to sustain that pressure, with Lampard sending on Idrissa Gueye to make his second debut for an excellent Davies who ran his heart out.
Patterson had a deflected shot go wide and straight up the other way Firmino drew two saves from Pickford before the England #1 foiled Fabinho as well. Then Maupay got 1-on-1 with Alisson but was unable to beat the Brazilian in the Reds goal soon after the hour mark as we all wondered how the game was still 0-0.
And then Goodison roared as former Red Coady looked to have put the Blues ahead after a great run from Maupay, but VAR decided once again against the Blues after having denied Demarai Gray against Leeds United midweek, deeming that the defender was just a hair offside.
The crowd were then incensed as van Dijk went in with a high boot on Onana, leaving him in plenty of pain but the Liverpool player was only booked, red cards have certainly been handed out for much less than that.
Dwight McNeil came on for Gordon and had a chance to score as did Gray, but it was the Red who finished strongest, with Pickford again denying Firmino and the otherwise quiet Mohamed Salah, tipping the latter’s shot onto the post with virtually the last kick of the game.
In the end one of the better 0-0 draws you will see this season. Pickford deserved all the plaudits for his first clean sheet of the season, but overall a very good performance from the Blues as a team as well.