1) Ings can only get better
There hasn’t been a lot for Liverpool fans to be pleased about in recent weeks, but the displays of Danny Ings has at least brought a small amount of optimism. The former Burnley striker works tirelessly and it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Kop. With Daniel Sturridge looking like a player that has missed large parts of the last year, it was up to Ings to provide the impetus in attack. When Ings ran through on the left-hand side, with Sturridge screaming for the ball unmarked in the middle, it was difficult for the forward to find his strike partner. Phil Jagielka’s clearance denied him the opportunity to cross, although he could have spotted him earlier. Sturridge was still berating Ings as the latter headed home the resulting corner for the opening goal. It’s now two goals in three Premier League starts for his new side, while he has been utilised on the left wing on one of those occasions.
2) Liverpool's defence continues to get bullied by old-fashioned style forwards
Roberto Martinez prides himself on his team’s ability to play attractive football. However, with a player as strong as Romelu Lukaku in his ranks, it certainly makes sense to exploit his natural physicality.
Everton looked to play up to the hitman at the earliest opportunity, so he was able to bring the on-rushing midfielders into the game. It wasn’t just the defenders that laboured up against Lukaku, as he pushed Liverpool’s midfielders off the ball and shielded it expertly when dropping into central areas.
It’s not a new problem for Brendan Rodgers; it has been happening for a number of years with the likes of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel struggling with Didier Drogba. Last week the aerially proficient Rudy Gestede bullied their backline. The signing of Christian Benteke at least stopped one Belgian from intimidating their defence. Unfortunately, the transfer committee don’t have the funds to make this a policy.
Lukaku was a constant menace and deserving of his goal on the stroke of half-time. “The hold-up play from Romelu today was the strongest that we have in an Everton shirt," Martinez declared in the post-match press conference. This allowed us to lock the three centre-halves, so that we could play around him.”
3) You have to accept Emre Can's weaknesses and strengths when deployed at centre-back
The Turkish-born midfielder clearly has a lot of technical ability, but it’s arguable that he may never reach his full potential. One of the main concerns for Can is that it’s not entirely clear where his best position is. There were moments where he was excellent, as he distributed the ball from the back and intercepted Everton’s attacks. However, there were equally moments where he looks a liability, none more so than his attempted clearance for Lukaku’s goal. He incited the crowd when his tackle on Ross Barkley led to an altercation between the pair, while his overhead attempt caught Gareth Barry in the head. Can has all the qualities to be an exceptional player, but his tactical discipline in central midfield has ensured that, for now, Rodgers will use him further back, even if it means he might make a catastrophic mistake.
4) Deulofeu still needs to add consistency
Gerard Deulofeu returned to Goodison Park on a permanent deal from Barcelona this summer, after a successful initial spell at the club. The exciting winger has been showing plenty of promise for a number of years with his pace and skill, although it’s time he began to show a little bit more. His two assists for Lukaku against West Bromwich Albion illustrated the type of impact that he can have at his best, but the Catalan needs to provide some consistency to his game. Deulofeu spent last season on loan at Sevilla, with the Andalusian manager Unai Emery admitting: “Make him play football with team-mates, on a big pitch, and it’s hard. He doesn’t have the maturity or capacity for sacrifice yet.” The wideman had a disappointing game, although it was his cross that was poorly cleared by Can in the build-up to Everton’s equaliser. Deulofeu completed just 1 of his 5 attempted take-ons, while he didn’t make a single successful cross. It was no surprise to see him leave the pitch to be replaced by Aaron Lennon just before the hour mark.
5) Lucas tactical fouling almost cost Liverpool
Liverpool have not lost a Merseyside derby since October 2010; Everton have won only one of their last 31 league encounters with their local rivals. The 1-1 scoreline was a fair representation of the 225th showdown, with neither side showing enough in an attacking sense. One of the reasons for this lack of fluidity was a number of minor fouls around the centre circle, with Brazilian Lucas the chief exponent.
Lucas did make 8 tackles, but it was his 7 fouls that frustrated the home support. “I thought Lucas was very clever, he was a major part of this Liverpool side to stop our counter-attack,” admitted Martinez. “He did that really well, he got booked for it and for his technical fouls, and it was very clever and intelligent.”
Lucas revealed before the match that he learnt from his former captain Steven Gerrard that you have to do everything possible not to be on the losing side in these battles. “He was super-focused, the only thing he talked about was the derby and not losing it,” confessed Lucas. “It’s something I learned from him and being here over the years, I have the same feeling as that right now.”
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