Tuesday, 9 February 2010

LIVERPOOL FC: Laughing at Everton (again)

Football - Liverpool v Everton Barclays Premier League
WHO needs comedy when you've got Evertonians?

After grinding out a win against a side which had a numerical advantage for over an hour, Liverpool can rightly feel proud of themselves for pocketing the three points in the Anfield derby on Saturday.

Everton? Well three days later their fans are still moaning.

Nasty Liverpool dared to fight, kicked them back and beat them with the kind of performance Blues fans have pumped their fist at for 15 trophyless years. And they didn't like it.

The Toffees swaggered into Anfield on the back of an unbeaten league run stretching back to November. When they lost to Liverpool.

With impressive away draws against Chelsea and Arsenal under their belts - and a Woodison win against Manchester City - the Toffees were convinced this was the year they would claim victory on enemy turf, a result they have been waiting for - and dreaming of - since 1999. 

Well the wait goes on - and so does the bitterness.

Pre-match David Moyes - a man who has made playing to the gallery an art form (see 'People's Club) - was at it again. Liverpool, apparently, are only better than Everton because of the money they have spent - and the gap between the sides is closing.

Last season, Benitez could have said the same about Chelsea and Manchester United. Only he'd get hammered for it. Moyes? Well he's a genius, isn't he?

Graeme Sharp was sticking his oar in on Radio City, too. Rafael Benitez's current side, according to the former Everton striker, is the worst he has seen since he arrived in England in 1981.

Ah, those great sides of the Graeme Souness era - no doubt Torben Piechnik, Istvan Kozma and Paul Stewart were nodding in agreement at Sharpy's assessment.

Everton fans too, were puffing out their chests in anticipation of Saturday's showdown. The word on the street was the Red Men were there for the taking.

So how dare Liverpool not lie down and take it. How dare they thunder into every tackle, close down every move, and leave the clueless Toffees lumping long balls at a defence that had the cigars out - even with 10 men.

One report - written by a Blue - has even accused Liverpool players of targetting Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini with over the top tackles in an effort to dampen their influence.

Premier League: Liverpool 1 v 1 EvertonPlease. And was Javier Mascherano's knee targetting Pienaar's studs? Sotirios Kyrgiakos's ankle trying to stop Fellaini's boot and Dirk Kuyt's face trying to trip up the Belgian?

The whinging and whining is laughable. Fact is, it was Everton's best chance of a derby win on the right side of the park for 11 years. And they blew it.

And if Liverpool's performance was - again - more punch than panache, so what?

If Everton are as great as they say they are, they should have it in their locker to deal with it - especially with an extra man. It's a tactic Liverpool have had to face for years - not least from Everton sides, by the way.

Sports News - February 06, 2010As it was Kuyt's header, his 50th goal for Liverpool, was enough but Steven Gerrard - who is doing more convincing impressions of his old self as each game goes by lately - was also a whisker away with a superb freek kick while David Ngog also had a few sniffs on goal.

That was pretty much that in terms of attacking. Defensively Jamie Carragher led by example, snapping into tackles, winning everything in the air and setting a tone that was followed by Mascherano, shifted to right back after Kyrgiakos was rightly sent off, Gerrard and Lucas, who was again excellent.

So it's seven league games unbeaten now for the Reds, still shorn of course of three of their top table players in Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson.

Everton? Ah well, there's always next year...