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Blues Fall Victim to Another Derby Controversy

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  06/05/2013

Just as the first did back in October, the second Merseyside derby of the season ended all square but almost all the drama and excitement appeared to have been used up at Goodison Park as the flat Anfield edition ended goalless.

There should have been a winner, though, and it will come as no surprise that it was Everton who were robbed of it. Referee Michael Oliver whistled for a non-existent foul by Victor Anichebe, presumably on Pepe Reina, at a second-half corner and Sylvain Distin's headed goal was not allowed to stand.

Liverpool, of course, will point to Luis Suarez' goal that was chalked off in the reverse fixture, one that saw Steven Gerrad humiliate himself with an 80-yard run and celebratory slide for nothing, but that would overlook the fact that the Uruguayan could been sent off twice by that point for disgusting fouls on Distin and Kevin Mirallas in that game.

It was a rare error by Oliver who otherwise supervised proceedings effectively and dispassionately, although he was aided by one of the tamest Merseyside derbies in memory. Indeed, there were just three yellow cards shown all game and one of those was for dissent by Anichebe protesting his innocence in the disallowed goal incident. It was an unusually subdued affair that had the air of a meaningless, end-of-season fixture which, from the perspective of Everton's European hopes, it certainly was not.

Not that you'd have gleaned that from the Blues demeanour. They started slowly and never really got into anything resembling high gear, even in the closing stages when a goal could have nicked the points and kept Tottenham and Europa League qualification within reach.

Liverpool carried the greater threat in the opening stages and despite Darron Gibson being restored to the starting XI after returning from injury, Everton's midfield lacked conviction and didn't really get going until midway through the first half. Marouane Fellaini almost fluked the opener when he missed the near post by inches with his out-stretched leg from a free kick and Mirallas fired a low shot from the edge of the box, one that Reina gathered and which would prove to be the visitors' only shot on target all game.

Prior to that, the greater danger to the deadlock had been Daniel Sturridge and the Reds' quicker, more accurate passing which occasionally threatened to unlock Everton's back line. Sturridge was wayward with his shooting, though, dragging a tame left-footer wide in the sixth minute and blasting well over after Steven Gerrard had piicked him out with a raking pass from deep.

The Liverpool captain might have been the first player to trouble Tim Howard after half an hour but Phil Jagielka, who was practically immaculate throughout, dangled a leg back and blocked his shot. And the Blues' skipper was on hand again just before half time with a perfectly timed, last-ditch tackle on Coutinho.

For a rather lacklustre Everton, Gibson sailed their only other real chance of testing the goalkeeper over the crossbar from 25 yards after Daniel Agger had tripped Mirallas.

If Moyes had tried to gee up his men to now take command of this derby against a fairly toothless Liverpool, there was little evidence of it in the second half. Resorting to far too many long balls, precious few of which found or were won by Anichebe, there a general dearth of creativity about the Blues.

Normally composed in possession and insightful with his passing, Gibson struggled to find his range all afternoon; Mirallas was a mostly peripheral figure, Steven Pienaar was too often left looking for support in the final third; only Leon Osman looked capable of splitting the home side's back line but he wasn't able to do it often enough to create the crucial breakthrough.

Liverpool again began the stronger side and, after Fellaini's attempted backheel near the halfway line was intercepted by Coutinho, Sturridge looked odds on to score in a one-on-one situation with Howard but the American did brilliantly to close him down, hold his ground and usher the striker away from goal where he managed to dig the ball away to safety.

Easily the most contentious moment of this most calm of derbies was the scandalously disallowed goal after 55 minutes when Distin rose above Jamie Carragher and headed home Leighton Baines' corner. The referee, though, had held up the set piece to talk to Anichebe for jostling with Reina and appeared to have made up his mind before the corner even came in that an infringement was inevitable. There was none.

Mirallas' last attempt to break the stalemate was an attempted curler that lacked the bend to bring it back on goal and he was eventually replaced by Nikica Jelavic with 15 minutes to go but the Croatian wouldn't get a sniff, particularly as a succession of late free kicks by Baines were planted straight into Reina's hands.

For Brendan Rogers' side, Gerrard stole in behind the defence but was denied by Distin who knocked his attempted ball across the six-yard box behind and Agger glanced a late header wide.

And that was that. Both derbies would end all square and though the draw means that Everton will likely finish above Liverpool for a second successive season, the lack of determination and passion for a victory that would have kept hopes, however small, of Europe alive was a touch disappointing. Whether it was fear of losing another derby or general late-season malaise was unclear.

Reader Comments

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Dick Fearon
578 Posted 06/05/2013 at 08:17:07
Llyndon, you described it as I saw it.
For a long time I have feared that the referee is our biggest derby day enemy.
I am convinced that the team that gets into the refs face by disputing every decision benefits in 50/50 situations.
I am also convinced it is a deliberate tactic with unspoken support from er' not quite all managers.

Has anyone ever seen or heard SAF, Wenger a multitude of Chelsea, RS managers criticize their own players for violently disputing decisions.
I cannot remember a single instance where that kind of dissenter was yellow carded. Oh' silly me , didn't Victor get one in yesterdays derby.
It seems the Carraghers, Rooneys, Terrys and Gerards etc are allowed without any kind of punishment to wave imaginary cards and curse and swear as much as they like.
Moyes should wake up to the fact that his holier than thou dogma has not helped our cause.
Fair minded supporters would wince at my suggestion and to be honest I am not happy about it either. Referees grant us no favours for being goody two shoes, in fact the reverse is the case.
We are battling out of our depth and it is plainly stupid not to seek every crumb of advantage.

Patrick Murphy
614 Posted 06/05/2013 at 10:28:59
I notice on the official website that Jags is the club representative who is thanking the supporters for renewing their Season Tickets for next season (20,000 plu) and not the Manager, so if I'm correct Saturday will be his last game in charge at Goodison. The end of an era and a new chapter awaits.

Kevin Naylor
620 Posted 06/05/2013 at 10:52:27
One can only hope, sure we were robbed of a goal but again Moyes lined up at Anfield not to lose and he will now (hopefully) end his Everton career having not won there, OT, SB and Arsenals 2 stadiums in the PL. An absolutely disgusting stat to have round your neck.
Matt Traynor
633 Posted 06/05/2013 at 11:57:40
The ref blew for the "foul" as soon as the ball was kicked. It's really annoying, but even the reds in the pub I was in agreed it wasn't a foul. The atmosphere was strangely civil, partly down to the pre-match tribute which was good for a global audience, but really wasn't necessary (in the sense that we've been their for them since 15/04/89).

That the game was largely a non-event is probably down to the fact that there was nothing on it, other than local bragging rights - something that doesn't seem to bother our manager. Kind of shows how far both clubs have fallen though.

David Hallwood
637 Posted 06/05/2013 at 12:08:15
Good report Lyndon. Kevin Naylor(#620) the way DM sets his team up was confirmed in the Financial Times covered in 'How the Blues made good' in that he does set his teams out not to lose despite his insistence that they always go out to win, which is at the heart of the TW split between the MOB and his supporters.

On to the game what can you say; how about piss poor. I've never seen so many misplaced passes in one game, in addition the tactic of hitting the forwards early and scrabbling for the 2nd ball, clearly ain't working and IMHO doesn't allow the team to get into any rhythm, but then again is part and parcel of the no-lose mentality.

Andrew Ellams
638 Posted 06/05/2013 at 12:33:15
Pienaar's passing yesterday was possibly the worst I have ever seen from a top level footballer. How is it possible for anybody at any level of football to play so many short passes and pretty much every one go to an opposition player. Maybe predicatability plays a part in it and he is so limited with what he can do the defenders are in in there before he plays the pass.
Andrew Rimmer
639 Posted 06/05/2013 at 12:39:24
I wonder what was so foulmouthed that got Victor booked while Gerrard was allowed to get away with shouting "Yer fucking shithouse, Yer fucking shithouse, Yer fucking shithouse " at the ref. Was the ref a juror in the Southport bar case?
Patrick Murphy
645 Posted 06/05/2013 at 13:30:45
I hadn't realised that the other lot's finishing positions in the last 4 seasons reads 7th, 6th 8th and probably 7th we hold them in far to high a regard and makes it even more sickening that we haven't beat them at their ground in the past 4 seasons. How Sky et al justify having most if not all of their games live beggars belief.

Anto Byrne
648 Posted 06/05/2013 at 13:32:58
Only one substitution, bringing on Jelavic for KM and after what was it 80 odd minutes. Neither Osman or Pienaar had very much effect on the game that was so pedestrian. It would have been nice to see Oviedo and Barkley given a run.

Nah, happy with a point and the best haul of points in the 11 years under Moyes, I'm informed, is 60... so, with 2 games left, we could get 66. Then Moyes can take that Route 66 to Germany or Spain.

Kieran Fitzgerald
716 Posted 06/05/2013 at 17:08:15
As much as I hate saying it I have to agree with Gerrard about not having won anything, just because we finish above them. It is an obvious statement I know but sums up how far both clubs have fallen. In the eighties, it meant one of the two clubs had won the league. This weekend, so what.

In fact, I don't even feel that the bragging rights are boasting about. Rodgers will get handed a wad of cash in the summer, on top of what ever he gets in selling players. The club and the squad will progress next season and there is every chance they will finish above of us. As for us this summer, we will sell players out of necessity and stand still. Come the start of the new season we will be crossing fingers, eyes and toes that we will have the perfect season just to give ourselves a chance of finishing in the top eight.

Alan Ross
732 Posted 06/05/2013 at 19:05:28
Andrew #639

I saw that as well. Didn't take a lip reader to decipher Gerrard's foul mouth.

Thought at first he was referring to the Everton player he'd just fouled. But on reflection the object of his diatribe was the ref. Why the fuck he wasn't booked only the ref will know. Slimey little fucker. Gerrard that is, not the ref. Although after the disallowed goal I might well have agreed with his sentiments.

Ciaran Duff
789 Posted 07/05/2013 at 01:02:38
Anto,

Barkley wasn't on the bench. I heard a rumour that he was sick.

I feel sorry for Oviedo — has looked a decent player every time he has played but I guess Moyes felt that we are more likely to get a goal from Jelavic.

Danny Jones
864 Posted 07/05/2013 at 14:02:58
I never enjoy a derby unless we are 3-0 up with ten minutes to go and they're down to 10 men. Scratch that, 5 mins to go.

The Blues were ok. Jags and Distin in particular. Pienaar, although passing poorly, looked our most likely. Mirallas will be better when he can play a full game which he clearly can't at the moment. I like the look of Oviedo but I imagine the anti-Moyesers would have a fieled day if Moyes were to replacce an attacker with a defender (let's not forget that Oviedo is a left back bought to cover/replace Baines).

It is one of the world's great mysteries why we referees favour the opponent in this fixture. It is, however, beyond doubt that it happens. This was just another instance, or two if you count Gerrard's clear use of 'industrial' language.

West Ham is now a must win if Everton are to finish 6th as I don't see our persuers dropping points now. I'd like to say that finishing ahead of them means nothing other than more revenue but in reality I'd fucking love it if we beat them. (Trivia question: which gobshite said that?)

Harold Matthews
450 Posted 08/05/2013 at 13:05:52
Llyndon, You forgot to mention the terrier-like closing down and tackling of Pienaar, Fellaini and Osman, especially in the first half. They were the main reason the other lot looked so disjointed and mediocre. Of course, they tired badly later on, which was not surprising when one considers the immense amount of energy expended. Fresh legs were needed after 60 minutes but Moyes doesn't have that kind of thing on his agenda.

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