Everton 1 Lukaku 45+1'
Liverpool 1 Ings 42'
Liverpool headed into this game with more questions surrounding Brendan Rodgers' future. The manager hit back at his critics after last weekend's 3-2 victory over Aston Villa at Anfield but had to answer fresh questions after failing to win another European game in midweek. Today's Merseyside derby presented an opportunity to start to build some sort of momentum against a local rival. A draw in a game that was short on quality may not have been the inspiration needed before the international break, but a point at Goodison Park is a decent return.
The first half was short on real quality but full of running, effort, and energy. Liverpool dominated the ball to quell the threat of the home side in the opening half an hour, but Everton gradually saw more of the ball as the half wore on. Everton attacked primarily down their right side while Liverpool mainly built attacks down the left, this was a feature that remained generally steady throughout the match. Simon Mignolet proudly displayed his considerable shot-stopping qualities to deny Steven Naismith and James McCarthy to keep the score goalless, and Tim Howard denied James Milner at his near post.
Two late goals in the first half that would have concerned both managers. For Danny Ings' goal, Everton's defenders were thinking of their Saturday night dreams or nightmares when James Milner delivered his corner to allow a growing cult hero a simple header. With three regular minutes and another three additional minutes left on the clock, Liverpool were well placed to take a lead into the dressing room at half time. The task? To defend competently after going ahead. It was beyond the visiting side as Romelu Lukaku scored his fifth league goal of the season. The defending was shocking and typical of a Brendan Rodgers' side.
The goal was so bad it deserves its own paragraph readers so enjoy the following tale of defensive woe. Alberto Moreno turned his back so easily to allow Gerard Deulofeu's cross into the box and hardly got tight to his opponent. This is a weakness in Moreno's game: lacklustre defending and giving oppostion attackers too much space to potentially damage his team. There should be a zeal for defending, but Moreno is just one part of this defensive nightmare. Emre Can's contribution was even worse as he haphazardly hacked the ball across his area into Martin Škrtel's chest only for Lukaku to find a gift neatly wrapped up for his dangerous left foot. 1-1.
Liverpool's defensive and organisational mental weakness reared its unwanted head for the remaining minutes of the half. Rodgers' side seems incapable of reorganising after conceding a goal and always looks likely to conceded another in quick succession. This also seems to happen with increasing regularity after scoring a goal too, which cannot be sustained over the course of a season of success or progression. Hacked clearances, eroding composure, spaces opening up in strange places, and a lack of spatial defensive awareness. This occurs with worrying regularity, and the most frustrating aspect of Everton's equaliser was that it undid the hard work of the away side.
Liverpool were organised effectively and managed to go ahead even if quality in the final third was generally lacking. Everton would have gone into half time needing to find inspiration instead of using their equaliser as a springboard but started the second half with energy. That energy thankfully petered out, but Liverpool didn't find much of a response in a second half devoid of notable chances or creative flourishes. Daniel Sturridge was having one of those games where he took too many touches and seemed frustrated with the lack of service.
While a return from injury may have been an excuse for Sturridge, Coutinho's poor display in the derby was surprising considering he had two mobile strikers with excellent movement ahead of him. In midfield, Lucas Leiva and James Milner were full of effort in scrapping for the ball but lacked composure and inventiveness on the ball. For Lucas, that's understandable. However, Milner's passing was generally wretched save one or two decent balls into space and a set-piece assist for Liverpool's goal.
An away draw in the Merseyside derby isn't cause for disillusioned voices in isolation, but Liverpool's failure to create, defend effectively for a spell when going ahead, and reorganise after conceding a goal is all too familiar. In the context of the season, it was another game where Liverpool were not able to win a game after going ahead. It was another game where the football on offer was average at best. It was another game where horrendous defending gifted the opposition side a goal. That's just not good enough.
Liverpool's struggles can't be dismissed simply because the opponents were Everton or that it's been a strange Premier League season so far. However, it does mean that FSG probably won't act during the international break. Brendan Rodgers has a lot of work to do with a side in tenth spot in the Premier League with difficult games ahead that will cause trouble for a side that's yet to show signs of any real quality. One win against a desperate Aston Villa side has been the only victory from the last six league matches, and this isn't a position of strength or cause for fighting talk.
The main positives were the confirmation of how promising Danny Ings and an away point in the Merseyside derby, Liverpool need so much more in all competitions.