With Liverpool continuing to battle for the title and Everton desperately trying to stay out of the relegation zone, there was a lot riding on this edition of the Merseyside Derby.
With the sun beating down on Anfield, the Reds defeated the Blues 2-0 on Sunday, and remain undefeated in the Premier League since December 2021. The Reds have now only lost one of the last 26 derbies against the Toffees, and have come away with three points in 13 of those meetings.
The Reds seemed to lack any sense of urgency in the opening of the game and, despite dominating possession (86%) in the first half, strained to find any sort of forward passing or penetrating attacks through the Everton squad stacked back behind the ball. For just the second time this league season, Liverpool failed to get a shot on target before the half time whistle.
The main storyline throughout the first half was the tempers flaring between the squads resulting in a number of scrappy shoving matches between players in response to the time-wasting tactics of Everton and the complete lack of control over the pitch from referee Stuart Attwell.
Tempers cooled and the game resumed calmly after the half. Everton somehow stacked even further back defensively in the second half, and for about 15 minutes it seemed like there would be no crack to find for Liverpool to break through.
Just after the 60th minute, Jurgen Klopp made a few changes that would prove vital. Naby Keita and Sadio Mane made way for Luis Diaz and Divock Origi, the latter immediately making an impact. About a minute after coming on, Origi combined with Mohamed Salah for a quick exchange that Salah dinked toward the back post for Andy Robertson to head in, ushering loud cheers and a palpable sigh of relief from the Kop and Reds fans everywhere.
Origi wasn’t done yet, however. Diaz sent a bicycle kick across the goal for Origi to finish with a header to secure the three points for Liverpool.
The Reds are back within one point of Manchester City for the Premier League title.
Alisson – 7
Alisson wasn’t given much to do early on, with Everton only attacking on the odd counter, but was utilized for his feet a number of times and was solid and steady in those cases with the exception of one lop-sided punch that could have gone horribly wrong.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Alexander-Arnold struggled early on and off the ball, losing the ball a number of times with poor passing and having a rough time containing Anthony Gordon. He was booked for a tackle on a charging Gordon to save a breakaway. It simply was not the performance that Alexander-Arnold has set the expectations of him to be.
Joel Matip – 8
With Everton set so far back, Matip was given a high number of touches When called upon defensively, Matip kept his composure and was solid, with six tackles and 2 clearances, including denying both Iwobi and Gordon in one-on-one scenarios.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Though he wasn’t given a ton to do defensively, van Dijk was vital to the pace and ball movement from Liverpool on Sunday. In addition to his one shot off target and two aerials won, he finished with a stellar 97% pass success on 92 passes. He is now at 63 games unbeaten at Anfield.
Andy Robertson – 8
Robertson was a regular target down the left side throughout the first half and that persistence paid off finally in the second half with the Scotsman charging into the box to head in the Salah cross to open the scoring. He also had a vital goal-line clearance, finished with 93% pass success and a key pass. For a game that relied on him to step up offensively, Robertson took that responsibility in stride.