Liverpool Football Club got back to footballing business after a hectic couple of weeks off the pitch and a bad run of form in our last few games.
The match across Stanley Park at Everton signified the first fixture out the reign of Hicks & Gillett’s tenure at Liverpool FC, and the first under the ownership of the New England Sports Ventures Group.
John W Henry was present at the 214th Merseyside derby, contrary to initial reports. After full time he may have wished he had stuck to his original plans of witnessing his first Liverpool game at Anfield.
It is, perhaps, a blessing in disguise that Henry was present at this fixture, as it has highlighted the amount of work that is needed to be done across the entire club. The cloud has been lifted, but the aftermath of the storm that has raged for 3 years is still alarmingly evident.
Christian Poulsen, presumably due to start the derby, dropped out of the match late on due to compassionate reasons. We here wish him all the best and hope that all is well.
Everton started the match strongly, getting at our goal from the offset. Possession was all theirs for a large spell of the first half, with the vast majority of the action set back in our own half.
10 minutes in, Martin Skrtel gave away a free kick in a dangerous position just outside of the box. No card was shown as it looked like Howard Webb wanted to let the match flow. The free kick came in, was blocked only for the ball to end up with Jagielka, who’s shot could only fly high over Reina’s crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Distin found the ball again in our box. His shot was deflected behind for a corner, which looked threatening but came to nothing. Liverpool’s passing was looking pretty sub-standard. The bad run of form looked like it was set to continue.
It took until the 23rd minute for a realistic chance for the reds to arrive, as the ball was played down the left. A penetrating cross came in from Cole for Torres, who’s header was parried over the bar by Tim Howard.
Further pressure from Everton came as the ball was cleared from another toothless Liverpool atack. They broke, with two against four red shirts. Cahill found Yakubu, who’s low shot was saved well by Pepe Reina.
Then a high ball broke in the midfield. A shockingly bad header from Lucas finds an Everton player. Coleman makes a run down the right, is unchallenged all the way in to our box. His searching cross finds Cahill at the near post who rifled in to the back of the net. 1-0 Everton.
The remainder of the first half carried on in the same vein, with infrequent attacks from the reds, mostly coming to nothing. Every attack seemed to have someone on the wing, mostly the left, with no-one but Torres in the middle who was being crowded out by a number of Everton players. In contrast to this, Everton attacks had a good few options with every attack. It seems so simple, but how difficult can it be to simply create some options when we are on the attack?
The first half ends with Konchesky sending a cross in to the Everton box. He found Torres, who was once again being stifled effectively by two Everton players. He managed a header, but it comes to nothing.
Half time. 1-0 to Everton. It was evident that a change of tact was required. Everton were dominating the gameand our attacking simply wasn’t capable enough to create anything with seemingly no options at all available when we did manage to get past the halfway line.
The second half began with no changes at all. Everton continued to dominate the game as they did in the first half.
49 minutes in, Mikel Arteta found himself with some space outside the box. A little run in and then a right footed strike saw the ball curling away from Pepe Reina and in to the back of the net. 2-0.
With his hand over his mouth and deep in thought, Roy Hodgson’s body language was painting a picture of a man under pressure, and with no back-up plan. The infrequent Liverpool corners, amidst the barrage of Everton attacks, also highlighted the long running idea that Liverpool refrain from working on them in training. Nearly every one from Gerrard found the first available blue shirt in their box. The alarming lack of red shirts in Everton’s half was becoming much more evident too, yet no changes were made until the 70th minute, with N’Gog coming on for Lucas and the reds making a change to a 4-4-2 formation.
The trouble is, with Liverpool now going forward and searching for the goals we so desperately needed, rather than sitting deep as we were in the first hour of the match, we were becoming much more exposed at the back. With this, in the 75th minute Moyes brought on Beckford for the injured Arteta, also taking Everton to a more attacking 4-4-2. Everton were going for the jugular.
Luckily, the score stayed the same from there on in. Everton had their chances, and we looked more likely to score than we did for the initial 75 minutes, but this performance has highlighted the startling need for change on the pitch. Whether it be tactics, the players or perhaps even in the dugout, something has to change.
Hopefully these changes start to come sooner rather than later, because Liverpool Football Club, halfway through October, finds itself in 19th position with the worst goal difference in the Premier League.
Liverpool team: Reina, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky, Maxi, Merieles, Lucas, Cole, Gerrard, Torres.
Subs: Jones, Aurelio, Jovanovic, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, Kelly.
Referee: Howard Webb