I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor
The latest iteration of the Merseyside derby was a match of “almosts”.
It almost was a fixture featuring breathtaking football between local rivals. Instead, it was characterized by a thumping pulse but meager invention.
Liverpool’s forwards almost found a way past Jordan Pickford on a number of occasions, but a lack of precision allowed an alert Everton back line to defuse the threat.
The Reds’ midfielders almost seized the momentum at the half, only to surrender it following the interval and lose it completely when a couple of head-scratching substitutions were made late in the match.
Everton almost made Liverpool pay more dearly for their profligacy, but the combination of Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk did just enough to preserve yet another clean sheet for the Klopp’s side.
I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Mo Salah, who terrorized Watford so efficiently midweek, once again had to contend with defenders who were aiming to muscle him out of any sense of fluidity, the same way Luke Shaw had done so effectively at Old Trafford. They didn’t have quite the same degree of success, but Lucas Digne and Kurt Zouma did just about enough to ruffle Salah’s feathers.
After a quarter of an hour, Salah was able to create a shot for himself on the right of the area, but the effort was well within Pickford’s reach. It looked as though the Liverpool forward was beginning to get a feel for the target, and when he was released in space on the half hour, surging past the Everton defense with only the keeper to beat, one sensed that the breakthrough had come.
Instead, Salah tried to curl his effort beyond Pickford but left it within reach. Henderson’s follow-up effort was likewise blunted. It was an immense chance, one wonders whether it played on Salah’s mind over the remainder of the match. It wouldn’t be the last time today a split-second of hesitation on Salah’s part allowed Everton to recover and smother.
Tonight the music seems so loud
I wish that we could lose this crowd
The Goodison Park crowd seemed to draw energy from each squandered half-chance for Liverpool, from each free kick or corner that failed to clear the first man. At some point during the match, Klopp’s side turned exclusively to short corners in order to give Everton a different look, since efforts from the flag were proving to be ineffective.
Time and again, Michael Keane of Digne would materialize to make a last ditch intervention on Salah or Mané, to the delight of the home support. Everton’s forays were rare, but just before halftime Theo Walcott got on the end of a long ball from Michael Keane and was able to drift past Andy Robertson. Thankfully for the visiting supporters, Walcott’s shot was blasted well over the bar.
It seemed as though the Reds might be able to impose their will in midfield following the interval, but instead the hosts were in the ascendancy. With their control of the middle of the pitch increasingly less certain, Liverpools fullbacks gradually also became less adventurous.
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool
With just under 30 minutes to go, Klopp made his first double roll of the dice, bringing on James Milner and Roberto Firmino for an indifferent Gini Wijnaldum and Divock Origi respectively. Later in the match, he would introduce Adam Lallana for Mané, as the Reds frantically probed for some kind of breakthrough.
Whatever the intention was behind the substitutions, the desired execution was not realized. Both Milner and Firmino seemed one step behind everyone else on the pitch, and were guilty of being careless in possession, blunting whatever momentum Liverpool had built, to the delight of those in the crowd. Lallana arguably brought something different to the table, but Mané’s absence was also keenly felt at times during the final minutes of the match.
So 0-0 was how it ended, despite a frantic finish from both sides. Liverpool now find themselves second in the table, chasing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Klopp was adamant that Liverpool are still very much in the battle, and they certainly still could win it all - but their destiny is now in the hands of others.