It had begun to feel as though the officiating was tilting increasingly away from Liverpool this season, culminating in a wrongly disallowed Luis Diaz goal due to a significant VAR error against Tottenham on September 30th.
Against Everton in the derby on Saturday, though, for once there might have been a case this season that the officiating tilted in their favour—though the main reason for thinking that wouldn’t have been Ashley Young’s correct second yellow or a properly awarded handball penalty.
Instead, it was a pull-back by Ibrahima Konaté to stop an Everton break in the second half. It’s the kind of foul that often, though not always, earns a yellow. On this occasion, it didn’t, leaving Everton boss Sean Dyche fuming.
“A bit of luck?” Konaté’s defensive partner Virgil van Dijk asked rhetorically following the match. “Definitely. What can I say. he could have given it; he didn’t give it. A bit of luck for us. Did we deserve that luck? That’s something others can say. I don’t know.
“I think with tackles and stuff, that’s for the referee’s to judge. The second I notice that when there is a decision, we want to stay away from the referee and make sure we don’t get yellow cards for shouting. We did that very well”
Whether or not they got a little luck getting to keep Konaté on the pitch, the two other big calls that went their way were inarguably correct. What’s also inarguable is that Liverpool were by far the better side on Saturday afternoon.
In a game in which they held 78% of the possession and completed 87% of their passes while Everton managed justy 52%, Liverpool had 26 total shots with six shots on target while Everton had just one on frame and the Reds had 2.29 xG to Everton’s 0.09.
“We were lucky not to concede a second yellow with Ibou, and he knows it but we move on,” Van Dijk added. “It was the game we expected. The red card changed it a little but we had our game plan and had to be patient, had to make sure the defensive organisation was spot on because they wanted to win it and just kick it in behind.
“Obviously we are still at the beginning of the season but there are very positive signs. We kept a clean sheet, won quite comfortably, didn’t give many chances away. I think we dealt with things pretty well.”