Liverpool close the gap on Chelsea to just six points now after an incredibly hard-fought victory against Everton in the Merseyside derby. It was Jürgen Klopp’s first visit to Goodison Park and it took 94 minutes before he witnessed the winner.
What a winner it was, where Sadio Mane reacted first to a loose ball after substitute Daniel Sturridge’s shot had beaten the keeper but hit the post in the fourth minute of injury time.
The winning goal now means Everton have only won one of their past 20 Premier League Merseyside derbies against Liverpool, losing 10.
Klopp will take great satisfaction from the win. It was a case of grinding out a vital victory that was based on grit and determination more than free-flowing football we’ve witnessed from them this season.
Everton’s high tempo start put the Reds on the back foot right from the start. Koeman’s game plan to unsettle the back 4 with fast swift movement on the wing through the effective movement of Baines and Coleman was working.
Klavan looked unsettled and unsure how to handle the strength and power of Lukaku.
Everton had Liverpool rattled, yet simply ran out of legs and ideas. By the 25th minute they had almost lost their impetus. Slowly Liverpool took control and the last 10 minutes in the first half enjoying almost 80% of the possession.
Liverpool began the second half positively and seemingly camped out in the Everton penalty area for long periods of the game. Firmino, Clyne and Mané all coming very close.
Everton lost goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg to injury in the second half, however this didn’t change much as his replacement Joel Robles still made a few impressive saves, least of all from Roberto Firmino.
The longer the game went on the more Liverpool looked like winning. Liverpool sat there watching Everton attack, utilising their own pace it allowed successful counter attacks into the spaces created. There was an incident involving England team mates Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson. A dreadful one footed tackle on Henderson sparked the angry scenes. Despite his tackle where he was showing studs, Barkley was lucky to only receive a yellow card.
Exerting greater control on the game they began to look more dangerous. Since the Middlesbrough game, with Lovren Liverpool have added the long diagonal balls to their attacking game plan.
Teams can no longer press high and swamp our creative players, they now fear having to back track against the pace of Mané or Origi when a long ball is hit. Whilst Liverpool enjoyed much of the ball they still had very little to show for it. Until Daniel Sturridge entered. Picking up the ball, running across the 18-yard box, where his shot beat the keeper but hit the post. Sadio Mané reacted first to the loose ball and scored.
After difficult games against Bournemouth and West Ham United, Liverpool have thankfully returned in style. Having now won against Middlesbrough and now Everton away. Picking up maximum points and keeping pace with Chelsea.
Chelsea need to visit Anfield. If we can be 4-5 points behind them by then we have a very good chance.
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