In a vacuum, a draw away to Everton is not the end of the world. Hell, we’ve done it 9 of the last 11 visits. But in the context of a poor start in the league—as many dropped points as won after 6 matches—and a title challenge that appears over before it even began, it’s a bad draw.
Worse yet, the Blues will be absolutely delighted.
Anyway, let’s look at some of the finer things from the match.
Top 4 Race
Today’s result—again, not in isolation—should disabuse us all of any notion of being title race contenders. Of course there are mitigating circumstances: injuries, underperforming xG (other than the blip that was Bournemouth), hitting the woodwork loads of times, a dodgy decision or two against us, and so on. But anything short of a historic run—the Reds would need to win 25 or 26 of the remaining 32 matches to break 90 points—means that a title race is already all but off the table. Needless to say that this side does not look capable of putting together that run of games at this juncture.
However, there’s still the small matter of qualifying for the Champions League, which is a much lower hurdle to clear, despite the bad start. Instead of having to go at a 90-point clip, the Reds simply need to aim for the low-to-mid 70’s, or roughly 2 points a game. We haven’t managed that over the first six, but that’s definitely a reasonable target once (if) we get a few more players returning from injuries.
Time Wasters United FC
Teams have latched onto this method of frustrating and disrupting Liverpool’s rhythm, and for good reason. Even at our poorest, Liverpool are a threat when they gather up a head of steam. The Reds just managed to punish Newcastle for their antics, but Everton, in front of their home crowd, were able to get away it. Klopp & Co. need to come up with better strategies to cope with this negativist football. Look for more of the same from many sides this season.
Liverpool are so committed to conceding first, that they even managed it in a nil-nil draw. Impressive. Jokes aside, and as we’ll discuss more below, Liverpool really tried conceding first. Please. Liverpool. I beg you. Stop.
We’ve seen flashes of what Klopp wants to do by keeping Salah and Diaz wide, to create space and more fluidity in attack from the fullbacks and midfielders. Bobby Firmino’s goal against Newcastle was a shining example of it working. However, six games in (again, the Bournemouth blip not withstanding), it’s starting to look like a massive misstep from our coaching staff.
The Reds look both out of ideas in attack and extremely vulnerable in defense. Both sides of this worthless coin were on display today.
Liverpool created just 1.39 xG (according to Understat), with their biggest chance not coming until Diogo Jota’s 0.15 xG chance in the 94th minute. That Liverpool’s biggest chance was just 0.15 xG is also not an encouraging sign. Simply put, the Reds just aren’t creating big enough chances to really worry the opposition.
In continuing the worrying trend on defense, the Reds gave away a massive chance to Neal Maupay (0.63 xG), and another to Connor Coady. One was smothered by Alisson Becker (thank Fowler) and the other was chalked off for being offside. In both cases, the Reds made things far too easy for Everton, and got away with one. Had Maupay been more composed, or if Coady had just held his run for an extra split second, Everton would’ve scored and likely won the tie.
Everything just seems a bit off at the moment. Is it because of the players not implementing the game plan? Or is it the coaching staff who have made a mistake with this new strategy? Injuries don’t help matters, but the Reds should still be able to get results with the players available. Whatever the reason, they need to figure it out, and quickly.
What Happens Next
Somehow Napoli away to open up the Champions League Group Stage seems like a welcome reprieve from the poor start in the league campaign. It’ll likely be our toughest group stage match, but one where a draw would be a good result, in stark contrast to the expectations in the league.
Champions League football might be a welcomed distraction, but things aren’t getting easier in the league from here. The Reds will face Wolves at Anfield before traveling to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea (who, need I remind you, drew all four matches against us last year).