After a long wait to see Liverpool take the field again, that was definitely not the performance that anyone was hoping to see. While it was expected the squad would look a little rusty after a long layoff and not much time to train together, this group of mentality monsters had almost always found a way to get it done. That didn’t happen today as the team looked more disjointed as the game wore on.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
Naby Keïta and Takumi Minamino
Both players were surprise starters, but they acquitted themselves well. Minamino was taken out at half time in favor of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the Japanese international combined very well on the right wing with Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, and also had some nice movement with Roberto Firmino when he slid inside. While he doesn’t have the same speed as Mohamed Salah to stretch the defense, his movement and counterpressing created some nice moments.
Naby Keïta was quietly phenomenal during his time on the field. He is so efficient with the ball, both on the dribble and when he plays his passes. It’s a joy to see him as he glides around the field.
Sadio Mané Missing the Memo
Like with all previous games this weekend, all players took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter protests at the starting whistle. That is, everyone except Sadio Mané. Mané was so locked in and ready to go he took off sprinting down the left wing before realizing everyone else was kneeling. Whoops.
Left Back Depth
Andrew Robertson was a surprise scratch, which meant 34 year old James Milner was drafted to start at left back with no other specialists on the senior roster. Milner picked up what looked like a hamstring injury in the first half, meaning center back Joe Gomez had to sub on and step into the position. Gomez started his Liverpool career in that spot under Brendan Rodgers, but it is definitely not his most comfortable or preferred position. JoeGo did an admirable job, thankfully, and the rumblings are that Robbo will be fit for the upcoming midweek game. Still, it would be great to have another left back on the roster for these situations.
While he managed to not go full David Luiz, Lovren was targeted and beaten repeatedly after subbing in for the injured Joël Matip. It’s time for Lovren to move on.
Look, I’m as shocked as you are that Jürgen Klopp used all five substitutions. Granted, he was forced into two of them due to injury. Still, while Klopp has always been judicious with his use of substitutes, they usually have a positive impact after the come on the field. Today, however, only Joe Gomez managed to have a solid display. Of the tactical substitutions, none of them produced a more positive impact than the players they replaced. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was not nearly as effective combining on the right as Takumi Minamino in the first half, Georginio Wijnaldum was dismal in place of Naby Keïta, and Divock Origi wasn’t able to replicate any of his derby magic. The aforementioned Lovren was a dumpster fire.
Credit to the Opposition
It was a fairly ugly game, and that’s what Everton set out to create. Carlo Ancelotti has turned Everton into a well drilled side with two banks of four that kept their shape well. They clogged up the midfield passing lanes when Roberto Firmino tried to drop deep, leaving Liverpool with little room to operate in. They did well on the counter, and created the best chances of the game.
What Happens Next
Well, Liverpool are still in the enviable position of needing just five points over eight games to clinch the title. Depending on the Manchester City result tomorrow, Liverpool could still win the league by beating Crystal Palace on Wednesday. In all likelihood, however, Liverpool will go to Manchester City on July 2 looking to win the title at the Etihad against last years champions.