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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 7 February 2015; 8:00pm
0 0
Half Time: 0 - 0
Attendance: 39,621
Fixture 24
Referee: Anthony Taylor

Match Report

If there's one thing you want out of the derby, it's not to lose. Everton spared their fans the agony of a Liverpool win in Steven Gerrard's last all-Merseyside clash twists of fate in the Europa League notwithstanding but that was ultimately all they gave them in a torpid encounter at Goodison Park. In the context of their gradual recovery from those four defeats over Christmas, most Evertonians will take it, even if they'll feel like they didn't get to see their heroes really try and win it.

Roberto Martinez breezed into Everton last season with a new broom of optimism and the rallying cry of sin miedo but the spectacular manner in which the Blues' season derailed in December has forced a realignment of the Catalan's focus in recent weeks, one which was evident today in what was arguably the most Moyesean match of his tenure right down to the defensive substitution with five minutes to go that left Arouna Kone on the bench. It was imperative we didn't lose and Roberto made sure we didn't.

That Everton managed just one shot on target in 90 minutes speaks to their attacking impotence in this game, one that carried an unmistakable air of fear of losing from both sides. In truth, while they had the better of the game's few chances, the reds weren't much better and, apart from one acrobatic scissor-kick that deflected over the bar off Steven Naismith, Gerrard was abysmal. He was run close by Gareth Barry, whose heavy-legged display looked decidedly out of place in even this most pedestrian of derbies, but ultimately this was a match short on entertainment and one that both teams seemed content to just get out of the way.

With Leighton Baines and Aiden McGeady both failing fitness tests, Martinez was forced into two changes from the side that won at Crystal Palace last weekend. Bryan Oviedo was preferred to Luke Garbutt, whose continued absence hints at a contract impasse that may not get resolved, while James McCarthy made a welcome return to central midfield after five weeks out with a hamstring injury. New signing Aaron Lennon started on the bench alongside Ross Barkley.

Liverpool dictated the early sparring and Joel Robles caused a few hearts to skip a beat when he went walkabout trying to close Raheem Sterling down and was relieved to see the reds' forward put a shot into the side netting before he pushed Gerrard's direct free kick over the bar a minute later. With Brendan Rodgers' side starting out with a high pressing tactic, Everton were restricted to a lot of sideways passing before they gradually began to assert themselves as the first half progressed.

Unfortunately, they just weren't able to establish any attacking momentum. With Naismith and Romelu Lukaku often playing too far apart, the Belgian cut an isolated and frustrated figure for much of the contest as he was forced to switch between the target-man role to which he has shown himself ill-suited and the wide berth that hasn't really worked this season. Once again, the team wasn't set up to play to his strengths and you have to worry that it will ultimately drive him away, but Lukaku drew warranted criticism today for a general lack of movement and his propensity to repeatedly stray offside.

He wasn't alone in a below-par display, though. Kevin Mirallas was unable to wreak any of the havoc we know he can cause and Seamus Coleman only showed in fits and starts what he is a capable of, much of it later in the game once Lennon's introduction had opened up the space for him and given him a blue-shirted option within 30 yards of him down the right flank.

There was a sense that something special would be needed to break the game open and it almost arrived via the boot of Jordan Ibe. Thankfully, as Goodison held its collective breath, his thunderous shot from distance thumped off the outside of the post and to safety from Everton's point of view.

Having failed to really threaten Simon Mignolet's goal at all in the first half, it was Everton who went close to breaking the deadlock three minutes after the restart when Joe Allen tripped Naismith outside the box and Mirallas whipped a free kick narrowly wide.

At the other end, Sterling was denied at the near post by Robles as the Everton defence backed off Philippe Coutinho, allowing him to play the England man in. And Gerrard's only moment of glory flashed before eyes from the resulting corner but Naismith diverted his volley over 10 minutes into the second half.

The match was almost over as a spectacle after that, the spark of ignition never really materialising despite the crowd's fervent hopes. Lennon came on for Mirallas with an hour gone and added a little zip to the Blues going forward and, after his belated introduction, Barkley carved out Everton's best chance of the game when he picked out Coleman. His powerful shot was pushed behind at full stretch by the Liverpool 'keeper, though. Even the usual spate of handbags that erupted between Naismith and Jordan Henderson following Muhamed Besic's foul on Ibe (for which both Everton players were booked by Anthony Taylor but only Henderson picked up a yellow for Liverpool) was tame by derby standards.

The derby carries so much hype in the build-up this one more than most and emotion on the day that a damp squib like the one that played out at Goodison in front of the Sky cameras can leave you incredibly unfulfilled. The clarion call from supporters is for their side to really take it to the opposition and vanquish the arch enemy and Everton just didn't do that, even against a poor Liverpool side that looked shaky on the rare occasions we did have a go. They didn't even come close.

It was wholly at odds with the swashbuckling Toffees that almost won a thrilling Goodison derby in 2013-14, but then we haven't really seen that Everton in the Premier League at all this season. It is true that many of the attacking deficiencies on show today have been a frequent impediment to our success for much of this season, but, again, in the context of the patient resuscitation of the campaign that has been building since Hull, a point from the derby should not be underestimated. And let's be honest we'd take the same again at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

James McCarthy started the 224th Merseyside derby after five weeks out with hamstring problems. Bryan Oviedo came in for the injured Baines with Aiden McGeady not making the squad, while new loan signing Aaron Lennon started on the bench. Sturridge was on the bench for Liverpool.

Everton kicked off, with Jagielka getting the ball forward to Naismith, who was fouled but McCarthy strayed offside on the set pieces and the visitors came forward. Everton broke but another dreadful first touch from Lukaku rendered a very promising move dead in an instant.

Barry was in heavily on Coutinho, giving the Liverpool captain a chance but Robles was equal to it, palming over the free-kick. Everton were playing the ball forward with pace and length when they were pressed, and showing the required tempo, if not the required quality.

Liverpool lost Lucas after 15 mins, Joe Allen replaced him. Liverpool threatened with a Sterling shot across goal that won a corner but nothing else, while Naismith's determination did likewise at the other end, McCarthy with a weak header. Besic got called for leading with his arm.

Coleman did really well to cross over Lukaku for Naismith who incredibly could only bundle it to Mignolet with an awful first touch and he then collapsed in a heap, requiring treatment for an earlier knock on the head.

Ibe took things into his own hands and running forward, lashed a tremendous shot beyond Robles and onto the face of his far post, a huge let-off for Everton. Everton were putting in some great attacking moves down the right but the final ball seemed always lacking accuracy to the intended recipient, allowing Liverpool to regain possession and surge at them again.

Barry scooped a great ball up that fell perfectly for Lukaku but he could not command the ball as it fell at his feet, allowing Skrtel to nip in and nick it off him. More poor touches by Barry and Mirallas ceded possession needlessly. Robles kept a close eye on a speculative shot from Coutinho.

McCarthy saw yellow for a fractionally late tackle on Coutinho. Mirallas failed to profit from a great first-time pass by McCarthy, and Oviedo then fouled Ibe but nothing came of it. Ross Barkley prepared to come on in place of Naismith with 5 mins before half-time. Mirallas was trying hard but his control kept letting him down.

Ibe was giving Oviedo a testing time down the Everton left, while Besic caught Coutinho with his trailing leg, as Barkley returned to his seat on the bench after a lively half in which Everton had played with excellent tempo and desire, defending well, but just not showing enough quality with the final ball going forward, and not a single shot on the Liverpool goal.

No changes at the break except that it seemed Everton had been told to play a very different game, surrendering all initiative in a very poor spell where they piss-farted around at the back until a forward ball finally drew a foul. But, from a good position of a cross-ball, Mirallas selfishly went for goal, missing at the near post with Mignolet covering the shot comfortably.

Just when Everton needed a boost, it was Liverpool who brought on Sturridge in place of Coutinho, and that finally prompted Martinez to bring on Lennon for his debut in place of Mirallas, who had not really played all that well. Oviedo took over his set-piece duties but a promising delivery ended up too flat. Everton finally got forward after the hour mark but Coleman's cross was very poor. Better work saw a cross in but Lukaku was of course offside, with the entire back four in his sightline.

Some great movement out of the back, Jagielka, Naismith to Coleman but again an absolutely abysmal cross at the end of it, that saw Liverpool really press, with Can getting in, requiring some desperate blocks in the Everton defence.

Oviedo fouled Ibe and saw yellow for a tackle from behind, and it gave Liverpool a set piece wide on the Everton left that was defended away. Can had complete mastery over Lukaku, drawing a silly foul by the Big Man, who got himself lazily offside yet again.

Lukaku finally beat Can but Henderson was there to conceded only the second Everton corner, curled too deep away from goal by Lennon(?). Some silly handbags saw Naismith and Henderson get yellow after Besic and Ibe got into a silly little wrestle, Besic also getting shown a card.

With 10 mins left, it at least got the crowd suitably animated but it was Liverpool who seemed to show the stronger response, Everton not making the most of breaking moves, with all 11 men back for a corner that was defended away, Lukaku wasting a great chance to get behind the Liverpool defence.

Barkley finally came on for Naismith with only 5 mins left Alcaraz also replacing Besic (to a chorus of boos?). Finally a glorious ball in for Coleman from Barkley but he took an extra touch and Mignolet palmed the shot away. At the other end, a Barkley giveaway allowed Gerrard a chance to drive a shot just wide of the Everton goal.

Three minutes of added time but Everton had not really looked like scoring despite putting in a spirited if ultimately ineffective performance against the hated red horde from across the park. A point is welcome but now FIVE YEARS since we beat these bastards. Ultimately disappointing.

Michael Kenrick


Match Preview

What can you say about the derby that hasn't already been written, said or thought? Most of us hate it and can't wait until it's over. The week leading up to it is a mixture of fear, dread and that annoyingly irrepressible optimism that flickers in your belly at the prospect of what could be. You know you're setting yourself up for heartache but you can't help yourself. The life of a Blue...

Everton have had the better side than Liverpool on paper on quite a few occasions in recent years but we haven't beaten them since 2010 when Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta were in their pomp. In last season's Goodison derby we really should have done – Romelu Lukaku, dreadlocks a-flying, had scored a brilliant brace and put us on the verge of a famous win but a lapse in focus at the back right at the end cost us.

Prior to that, of course, there was another thrilling 2-2 draw in which Luis Suarez was up to his snide worst raking his studs down Sylvain Distin's heel and stamping on Kevin Mirallas, and them, of course, the scandal of the "Martin Atkinson derby" when Jack Rodwell's red card robbed us of any hope of winning the 2011 edition.

Unfortunately, the Premier League haven't mitigated the prospects of refereeing controversy in the fixture that has, historically, seen the most red cards. Anthony Taylor, no stranger to baffling decisions or cards of either color, is the man entrusted with this season's Goodison derby and that makes it something of a lottery. Who knows? Perhaps Everton will be the beneficiary this time and be awarded what would be just the third derby penalty awarded to them in the Premier League era... Stranger things have happened.

Of course, as Sky Sports' disgracefully biased marketing won't let you forget, the other aspect to this derby is that it will likely be the last for "Slippy G" – until he comes back to hog the limelight again on loan from LA Galaxy next January, that is. Frankly, we Blues can't wait to see the back of him given the misery he has caused us over the course of his career and nothing would bring greater pleasure than if we could ruin his send-off from this fixture. Please let it happen...

Having surprised ourselves somewhat by beating Crystal Palace last weekend, Everton come into this game with a spring in their step and, possibly, armed with James McCarthy back in the starting XI. After practically all the national dailies came out simultaneously with the news that the Irish international had suffered another setback in his recovery, Roberto Martinez claimed in his Thursday press conference that scans had given him the all-clear and that he would be in the squad.

Ordinarily, were he to start he might do so at the expense of Muhamed Besic, who has deputised impressively over the past five weeks and established himself as something of a crowd favourite, but Martinez played all three of his defensive midfielders at Anfield in September and could do so again.

If he does, it would likely be at the expense of Aiden McGeady, an immediate debut for Aaron Lennon, or a return to the starting line-up for Ross Barkley. It's hard to see the manager changing much from the team that beat Palace so it would not be a surprise to seen the new man from Tottenham start on the bench, even if his pace would be a welcome boost given that the reds have their own fleet-footed players like Raheem Sterling.

Keeping the likes of him, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge quiet is, obviously, going to be key to to Everton's chances this weekend. Liverpool's defence can be vulnerable when attacked either at pace or with any sustained pressure so there will be plenty of weaknesses for Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku to exploit. But keeping the back door closed and avoiding the mistakes that befell us at Anfield a year ago – and which, to be fair, seemed to have been heeded based on September's game – will be vital.

And, of course, keeping cool heads and rising above the usual derby fray given Mr Taylor's presence in the middle will be paramount. The Blues rarely, if ever, benefit when the red cards start being bandied about so there will be no need to give the officials any cause for rash behaviour.

We all know what a win would mean to us. Let's just get it done. COYB.

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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2014-15 Reports Index
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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Besic (Alcaraz 86')
  Mirallas (Lennon 60')
  Naismith (Barkley 85')
  Subs not used
  Baines (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Howard (injured)
  Osman (injured)
  Pienaar (injured)
  Atsu (international duty)
  Long (loan)
  Lundstram (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  Lucas (Allen 16')
  Coutinho (Sturridge 56')
  Sterling (Lambert 82')
  Subs not used

  • Possession
  • Shots on target
  • Shots off target
  • Corners

Premier League Scores
Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Leicester 0-1 C Palace
Man City 1-1 Hull City
QPR 0-1 So'hampton
Swansea 1-1 Sunderland
Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Burnley 2-2 West Brom
Newcastle 1-1 Stoke
West Ham 1-1 Man United

Team Pts
1 Chelsea 56
2 Manchester City 49
3 Southampton 45
4 Manchester United 44
5 Tottenham Hotspur 43
6 Arsenal 42
7 Liverpool 39
8 West Ham United 37
9 Swansea City 34
10 Stoke City 33
11 Newcastle United 31
12 Everton 27
13 Crystal Palace 26
14 Sunderland 24
15 West Bromwich Albion 23
16 Aston Villa 22
17 Burnley 21
18 Hull City 20
19 Queens Park Rangers 19
20 Leicester City 17


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