SUNDAY’S derby was a pulsating encounter and a very interesting tactical tussle.
Our approach was similar to that deployed against Rodgers’ former side Swansea last season.
Strategically we looked to press high up field, disrupt rhythm, cut off angles for forward passes and build possession in the opposition half, predominantly via Osman and Baines whose 29 combinations was the most of any players on the pitch.
Passes wise, we had more of the ball with 66% final third possession with 234 v 108 final third touches leading to us creating 14 chances to Liverpool’s 11.
Our opponents were slightly more positive on the ball with 54% of their passes being forward ones compared to our 51%.
Liverpool also played more long balls, unsurprising given the fact they spent most of the game in their own half and were reliant on counter attacks.
Defensively we looked shaky again with our high pressing /high defensive line combination meaning there was plenty of space in behind for Suarez to operate.
Liverpool’s main attacking strategy was to get the Uruguayan to arrow into pockets of space left by the marauding runs of Baines. Distin is a great defender but always struggles against Suarez’s speed and quick feet.
Going forward for us, Mirallas was the player of the first half and led the poor Wisdom a merry dance with his trickery and direct running although in fairness to the hapless Wisdom he was afforded little protection from Sterling in front of him.
Magaye Gueye’s second half cameo was equally tepid; whereas Mirallas’ direct running inside complemented Baines, the Senegalese’s reliance on his left foot encroached on the space available on the touchline, thus negating the threat of his fullback in the second period.
This, combined with Rodgers’ switch to a back three to counter our aerial threat, meant the second half was something of a damp squib in comparison.
The result means we have now drawn three on the bounce – all against sides in the bottom half of the table – although our powers of recovery to retrieve a result from a losing position in each game should be applauded.
Next up is a tricky looking fixture against the very watchable Fulham.
Jol’s side have some classy players such as Ruiz and Berbatov and play with a passing tempo as fast as anyone in the division.
Moyes has a decent record against the Dutchman, having won five of their last six duels and all three last season.
Another win will be a big ask but this Everton side is very capable of delivering.
Oct 2011 Fulham 1-3 Everton
A dramatic finale and a terrible miss combined to earn the visitors victory. After Royston Drenthe and Fulham substitute Bryan Ruiz traded fine goals in either half, a manic injury-time period saw Bobby Zamora miss an open goal before Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell struck.
Sep 2010 Fulham 0-0 Everton
A hard-earned goalless draw wasn’t enough to prevent David Moyes’s side slumping to the bottom of the Premier League table as the Cottagers maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign. The visitors shaded possession but Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer denied Yakubu and Mikel Arteta.
Sep 2009 Fulham 2-1 Everton
Everton saw a first-half lead slip away as they remained ensconced in the relegation zone. Tim Cahill’s header put the visitors deservedly ahead until Paul Konchesky’s shot deflected in off Sylvain Distin before, after Phil Neville had been carried off, Damien Duff netted the winner.
May 2009 Fulham 0-2 Everton
Everton warmed up for their FA Cup final appearance against Chelsea in the ideal fashion by securing their first victory at Craven Cottage in 43 years. After Louis Saha struck the woodwork, Leon Osman scored in either half as David Moyes’s side finished the season in an impressive fifth place.
Mar 2008 Fulham 1-0 Everton
David Moyes had no excuses for an extremely disappointing performance from the visitors, who were undone by two former players. A cross from Simon Davies was flicked by Joseph Yobo into the path of Brian McBride, who headed beyond Tim Howard midway through the second half.