Liverpool continued their recent dominance over their Stanley Park neighbours with a convincing 3-1 win in the 228th Merseyside derby on Saturday.
Sadio Mane, Phillipe Coutinho and Divock Origi were on the scoresheet for the Reds, who stretched Everton’s winless run at Anfield into its 19th year.
Before the match, the club honoured long time club physician Ronnie ‘Bugsy’ Moran, who passed away earlier in the week. Known by many as ‘Mr.Liverpool,’ Moran was remembered with a minutes applause by both teams and the crowd, as well as a mosaic across the whole Kop.
Jurgen Klopp selected a predictable Liverpool side, with Adam Lallana unavailable with a thigh injury sustained on international duty, Jordan Henderson being kept out by his persistent foot problems, while Daniel Sturridge couldn’t play due to his body being held together by tissue paper.
Klopp resisted the temptation to slot Coutinho into the midfield, instead pushing Emre Can forward and relying on the experience of Lucas in the holding position.
Ronald Koeman elected to go down a different route. He sprung a surprise by naming a young, inexperienced side in an attempt to end the Toffees’ 13-match winless run against Liverpool.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin kept Kevin Mirallas on the bench and Tom Davies was preferred to Gareth Barry in the centre. The absence of Morgan Schneiderlin caused Koeman revert to a back-three. Little-known defender Matthew Pennington made his Premier League debut on the right side of the defence.
It was always going to be interesting to see how the young Everton team would settle in such a hostile atmosphere. The answer, evidently, was poorly.
Midfielder Ross Barkley miraculously escaped a booking in the sixth minute for a late, crude tackle on Can. Barkley has history in this fixture. In the season’s earlier Merseyside derby in December, Barkley was extremely fortunate to remain on the pitch after a potentially leg-breaking tackle on Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool had a lead within eight minutes. Some interplay between the front three of Firmino, Coutinho and Mane eventually saw Mane with room to shoot from the left side of the box, where he rolled the ball past a helpless Joel Robles into Everton’s goal.
Everton must have been sick to death of the Senegalese, who of course scored the stoppage-time winner in Liverpool’s 1-0 win in December.
Against the run of play, it was Everton who scored next as Liverpool’s deficiency in defending set-pieces reared itself for the upteenth time. Jagielka got a flick-on at the near-post and the ball fell for Pennington after a goal-mouth scramble, who couldn’t miss from point-blank range.
Liverpool’s lead was soon restored by Coutinho. The Brazilian magician made a trademark run from his left wing, cutting inside defenders with ease and curling a shot into the top-right hand corner of the net.
Liverpool took their goal-advantage into the break, but should have had a man advantage as well. Barkley left a foot in a challenge with Dejan Lovren towards the end of the first half and received yellow. Had he been booked for his previous challenge on Can, Barkley would have been off the pitch.
The second-half started poorly for Liverpool. Goalscorer Sadio Mane had to be substituted after a nasty incident where his knee and ankle twisted unnaturally beneath him. He will likely miss several weeks with his injury.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Reds however. Mane was replaced by Origi, who soon doubled Liverpool’s lead after a through-pass from Coutinho.
The remaining 30 minutes of play passed without significant incident, save for some poor challenges from Ashley Williams which could have resulted in red cards. Everton have failed to beat Liverpool for 14 consecutive matches, which is just one shy of their all-time record set from 1972-78.