Everton and Liverpool play out stalemate as Man City stay top
Marco Silva’s Toffees well worth their point on a grim afternoon at Goodison Park
Seamus Coleman challenges Adam Lallana during Everton’s goalless draw with Liverpoo. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Everton 0 Liverpool 0
On a local level the 233rd Merseyside derby brought solace for Liverpool as their unbeaten run against Everton extended to a record 17 matches and closer to the nine-year anniversary of their last defeat. But Liverpool are not competing on a local level this season, not with the prize of the Premier League title on the horizon. By those rarefied standards this was a worrying visit to Goodison Park for Jurgen Klopp and company.
Liverpool slipped a point behind Manchester City in their quest for the title as they were held to a forgettable goalless draw by Marco Silva’s team. Klopp beat the Liver bird on his chest in front of the away supporters after the final whistle, as is customary from the Liverpool manager following an encouraging result, but there was no disputing who departed Goodison the happier. Everton’s arduous wait for the scalp of their local rivals goes on yet the potential damage inflicted on Liverpool’s domestic aspiration, with this their fourth draw in six league games, offered them ample compensation.
Everton were certainly up for the 200th league edition of the most played derby in English football, crowd and players. Goodison was a febrile old place in the build-up to kick off as it produced its finest atmosphere of the season for a fixture that offered Silva’s side opportunity to connect with an exasperated fanbase. Tony Bellew, the former world champion boxer and vocal Evertonian, said a few prayers when the game began and within seconds a pumped-up Seamus Coleman clattered into Divock Origi, Liverpool’s 96th minute hero when the rivals met in December. Theo Walcott of all people collected the first booking for a foul on the same player after merely seven minutes.
Liverpool needed time to find their rhythm in the face of a quick and aggressive Everton display. Virgil van Dijk intercepted a low cross from Gylfi Sigurdsson that was destined for Walcott after hesitation in the visiting defence. Dominic Calvert-Lewin refused to be intimidated by the power and height in Liverpool’s central defence and worked ferociously across the front line, though was too often left isolated when Jordan Pickford pinged wasteful clearances in the young Everton striker’s direction.
The England goalkeeper’s distribution was erratic at best, with feet and hands, but his shot-stopping could not be faulted when Liverpool created the only clear chance of a chaotic first half. Everton’s shape was ragged at times and the space between their central defenders and midfielders would have been manna from heaven for Roberto Firmino. Unfortunately for Klopp his influential Brazilian was only fit enough for the bench having injured an ankle at Manchester United last Sunday.
A mistake by Morgan Schneiderlin presented Liverpool with their first opening. His failure to control a short pass in the centre circle enabled Fabinho to release Mohamed Salah through on goal with a perfectly weighted first time pass. Salah sprinted in from the right, Pickford stood his ground and made a fine stop as the Egypt international shot to his right. Coleman threw himself in the way of Jordan Henderson’s shot from the rebound and Everton escaped.
The Republic of Ireland captain was alert to stop Salah latching onto a superb ball over the Everton defence by Henderson as Liverpool, with their breathtaking speed and numbers on the break, carried the greater threat. An end product, a touch of composure and quality on the ball was lacking in both teams, however. This was another in the lengthy list of Merseyside derbies that resembled a scrap more than a spectacle.
Alisson was forced into his first save of the game early in an improved second half when Calvert-Lewin met Lucas Digne’s corner with a glancing header. Pickford, his clearances sailing out of play or onto a Liverpool player’s head with astonishing regularity, then saved comfortably from a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick.
Salah was given another clear run at Pickford’s goal when Joel Matip ghosted beyond Schneiderlin and put the forward through via a deflection off Kurt Zouma. Liverpool’s leading marksman seemed poised to convert, shaping to shoot inside the far corner, when Michael Keane launched himself into an excellent and vital interception. Another last-ditched tackle, this time from Digne, denied Fabinho as the Brazilian midfielder was about to bury a van Dijk header across goal at close range.
With Firmino and James Milner entering the fray courtesy of a double substitution by Klopp, who withdrew the subdued Georginio Wijnaldum and Origi respectively, the visitors had several openings to punish Everton on the counter-attack late on but failed to capitalise. Matip should have at least tested Pickford when meeting Alexander-Arnold’s corner with a free header but steered a poor effort wide. Van Dijk was also unable to connect cleanly with a header when free inside the Everton six-yard box.
The hosts had their glimmers of opportunity too in a far more open second half with Richarlison improving their approach down the right. Bernard was millimetres away from connecting with the Brazilian substitutes’ low cross and was also foiled by a fine van Dijk tackle as he sought to weave his way into the Liverpool area. - Guardian