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Everton 3, Liverpool 3: First Thoughts

Three set-piece goals in the opening twenty minutes set the tone for a memorable and exciting Merseyside derby.

Alex Livesey

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Everton 3 Mirallas 8', Lukaku 72', 82'
Liverpool 3 Coutinho 5', Suarez 19', Sturridge 89'

  • So what an early start for the neutrals! Of course, the first ten minutes brought feelings of elation and familiar set piece disappointment. Everton were the better side in the opening fifteen minutes as they were snappier in the tackle and a little more aggressive than Brendan Rodgers' side. Roberto Martínez's wasn't cautious in his first Merseyside derby as the Toffees were positive in possession and attack. Coutinho's fifth minute opener came from a set piece, Mirallas' eighth minute equaliser was also sourced from a set piece well, and Luis Suarez's stunning goal was also a set piece.

  • Everton dominated the ball in the first half nearing 60% possession around the half hour mark but Liverpool slowly saw more of the ball as the half edged towards half time. Everton were tidier in possession than Liverpool. Joe Allen and Lucas were more adept in possession than either Gerrard and Henderson. Suarez and Coutinho had to play a riskier game in the first half so their pass completion stats hovered between late fifties and early sixties in terms of percentages. Gerrard's first half performance was as my father put it, that of a "has been" and while he likes to rile me up when I'm watching Liverpool and working on First Thoughts, he wasn't wrong about today. Gerrard's passing, pressing, and positioning was nowehere near the level required in a game of this significance or any for that matter.

  • Derby games are full of passion and committed tackles are expected. Players will give a little extra and there'll naturally be more spice than usual. However, Mirallas' challenge on Suarez in the first half was not only reckless but full of nefarious and diabolical intent. Phil Dowd needed to be strong as a referee and show some level of interest in the welfare of players on the pitch. A yellow card was excessively lenient irrespective of the fixture and would have ensured that the remaining players understand what is acceptable on such an occasion. Neutrals and pundits talk about ruining the game but sometimes there is more at stake.

  • Simon Mignolet. Goalkeeping genius. Lucas. Tactical titan. Flanagan. Dependable defender.

  • Everton's equaliser was coming for a long while as a plethora of chances were created that forced Mignolet to make a number of saves. Lucas appeared to be the sole midfielder actually interested in fulfilling his midfield duties. While Joe Allen had a beautiful chance to put Liverpool two goals up, Everton's commitment to attacking Liverpool with high tempo and well-placed placed through balls sliced through Liverpool.

  • What a derby that was ladies and gentleman. One question in the spirit of Columbo. What does Simon Mignolet's workload and performance tell us about the match?

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season. To share your thoughts on the goings on elsewhere in football today, head on over to the Saturday open thread but we'll probably have to recover first.

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