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Liverpool 2-0 Everton: Match Recap & Reaction | Blues caught out by pace

Dyche’s defensive system struggled against the quick counters of the Reds



The 242nd Merseyside Derby is one of Premier League’s games that is circled on the calendar when the schedule is released in the summer. This match has significance for many reasons but today, the outcome will be a potential boost for one of the teams as the blue and red halves of Merseyside are needing a victory for differing reasons.

There have been many low points in Liverpool’s 2022/23 season, but last weekend’s defeat by Wolves felt like the bottom. It was the performance as much as the result that was so alarming, although any loss to a team battling relegation would be cause for concern. Sitting in 10th place with a 22 point gap to Arsenal, Liverpool need to remedy their situation if they have any hope of getting near the Champions League places.

Everton arrive at Anfield after their excellent win over that same top team and the kickstart to the season that they needed under the leadership of Sean Dyche. A good result over the old enemy will continue to build the strong base that is required to wriggle out of the relegation fight and start looking up the table.

Starting Lineups

There was only one change for Everton from their last Premier League game - the 1-0 victory at home over Arsenal. Dominic Calvert-Lewin who left after 60 minutes did not pass the fitness test and was not even on the bench. (Un) Surprisingly, Dyche has given the nod to youngster Ellis Simms.

Jurgen Klopp struggled with the awful loss to Wolves by making two changes. Fabinho returned after illness and Jordan Henderson also returned to captain the side. Naby Keita dropped to the bench and Thiago was not in the squad.

Diogo Jota and Virgil van Dijk, returned to the squad and both started on the bench. Portugal forward Jota has not played since 16 October because of injury. Van Dijk has been out with an injury since 2 January. Roberto Firmino, who has not appeared since 12 November, is also on the bench.

Match Recap

It was a cagey beginning to the game as Everton crowded the midfield attempting to throttle any creativity Liverpool might try to establish. An early missed clearance for Joel Matip allowed Ellis Simms to let off a shot that was well blocked. Darwin Nunez was then tripped just outside the box but Mohamed Salah’s freekick was directly into the wall from that.

Good challenges from Seamus Coleman and Vitalii Mykolenko saw them snuff out attacks as the Blues showed they were up for the scrap early on. The best chance of first quarter of the game fell to Cody Gakpo, but his header from eight yards out went wide.

Fabinho had gone in hard on Amadou Onana early on to set the precedent, but the young Belgian was not to be subdued, clashing with Reds captain Jordan Henderson and then sliding in on goalkeeper Alisson. He remained active throughout the half, and was involved in just about everything the Blues did well.

With the hosts increasing the pressure, the Toffees earned their first corner of the game at the half hour mark. Iwobi’s ball into the box was cleared to Idrissa Gueye and his attempted shot wasn’t very far off the mark.

The Blues then almost scored from another corner, this time James Tarkowski’s effort from Alex Iwobi’s setpiece came back off the far post. The Reds were able to counter quickly from that let-off, and got their goal. There were more red shirts than blue in the Everton half as the hosts broke with pace, but as the cross came to a wide-open Salah, Jordan Pickford let himself down badly by positioning himself poorly allowing the forward to stab into a wide open net. Embarrassing from the England #1, with the Everton defence looking more like the team that saw off Frank Lampard in January.

The visitors went into the break frustrated that they were unable to keep the scores level, needing some Dyche magic pummeled into their ears.


The game pretty much ended as a contest early in the second half when it was deja vu all over again. From an overhit Dwight McNeil setpiece the Reds countered, and this time it was a speculative cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold that went through the box, with Conor Coady watching it go past him for Cody Gakpo to get his first goal in Liverpool colours. 2-0 to the Reds and that was about that.

Simms’ inability to hold on to the ball meant the Blues were unable to do much in the attacking phase of the game, and from that point on it was pretty much a wait for the Reds’ next goals as they continued to carve Everton open on the counter.

Demarai Gray came on at the hour mark for the young striker, but it was the Reds’ front three doing all the attacking, with shots either going just wide or Pickford doing the work to keep the scoreline at just two.

With fifteen minutes left and the Blues doing little to change that scoreline, Dyche threw on Neal Maupay and Tom Davies for Dwight McNeil and Amadou Onana, with the Blues going into a straight 4-4-2. There was even time for Davies to get a glaring miss, with Iwobi’s cross into the box evading Alisson and the midfielder unable to get his header on target, but it was the Reds who were still getting better chances to score the next one.

In the end, Liverpool got their first win of 2023, with Gakpo scoring his first Reds goal, both milestones coming against the Blues, of course.

Quick Thoughts

The Everton midfield was nothing like how they played against Arsenal a week ago. Onana did not get on the ball enough, Doucoure looked more like his early season self which saw him drop to the bench, while Gueye was in siege mode for most of the game. Their inability to sustain pressure on the Liverpool midfield meant Simms was marking Fabinho, and that allowed the Reds to keep the ball and start attacks from deep.

Sean Dyche is going to have to look at breaking up the centrehalf pairing of James Tarkowski and Conor Coady - they were both pretty awful today in their own ways.

The optimism from last week has all but dissipated, and the fanbase is back to despondency already, knowing that if Everton keep playing like this away from home, they will not be climbing away from the relegation zone any time soon.