The week in five words
Derby delight but Saturday sloppiness.
What went well
The last time Everton won a Merseyside derby at Anfield, Prince was partying like it was 1999 – largely because it was – and on Wednesday night Kopites were celebrating the easiest Merseyside derby win in living memory.
Liverpool played well to rack up a 4-0 win, but really didn’t have to. The Blues were so bad that Simon Mignolet’s post-match rating in the Liverpool Echo was ‘N/A’, as he had a quieter night than the season-ticket renewal manager at Villa Park. Meanwhile, Kopites took the mickey big time with ‘Olé!s’ as Liverpool stroked the ball around and ironic chants of ‘Bobby Martinez’ rang out on the Kop.
If Joel Robles hadn’t been in form and some of the finishing had been more accurate, it could’ve been 10, but that’s not to say extending Everton’s worst-ever run at Anfield wasn’t enjoyed. It’s also worth pointing out that James Milner created both Divock Origi and Mamadou Sakho’s headed first-half goals, taking his Premier League assist tally to 11 this season.
Compare that to £49m Raheem Sterling’s two for Manchester City and you might begin to wonder who really got the better deal last summer.
They say bad things come in threes – something Kopites have believed since Julian Dicks played at left-back here – and it felt like that this week.
Firstly, Everton’s Ramiro Funes Mori put the in-form Origi out for the season, and probably Euro 2016, with a disgraceful tackle that earned him a straight red card.
Secondly, it emerged that Sakho failed a UEFA drugs test and could be facing a lengthy ban and thirdly, Liverpool failed beat Newcastle on Saturday after cruising to a 2-0 interval lead. Rafa Benitez received a warm welcome on his second return to Anfield, but allowing the Magpies to score twice after the break to force a 2-2 draw was taking the gratitude a bit far.
What happened? Complacency set in. Adam Lallana, scorer of a brilliant goal, admitted “maybe we took our foot off the gas” and with Mignolet making an error that allowed the visitors back into the game – just as he did when the Reds blew a 2-0 lead against Sunderland in February – it was a rather concerning turn of events ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg away to Villarreal.
Defend like that again and the Reds will be in trouble.
Quote of the week
“If you think Daniel Sturridge can play from the first to the last minute in the last nine games, fine. If you think that is right, write it. If not, don’t ask me anymore. We will do what we think. But still, after this long period, you cannot use him as an orange and take each little bit of the juice.”
Speaking to the press before the Everton game, Jurgen Klopp made it clear that he’ll remain protective of Sturridge, but Origi has been sidelined since then. Whether that changes his thinking remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised if Klopp reverts to playing Roberto Firmino as a false nine against Villarreal and leaves Sturridge on the bench.
The need-to-know facts
- Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Newcastle was only the 15th time the Reds have failed to win at Anfield having led 2-0 at half-time. Simon Mignolet has been in goal for two of those games.
- The Magpies have kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 35 league trips to Anfield (83 goals conceded in total in that period).
- Daniel Sturridge has netted 7 goals in 7 Premier League starts against Newcastle.
- Against no club has Sturridge scored as many Premier League goals as he has against the Magpies (7).
Video of the week
Klopp howling with laughter when Lucas screwed a shot wide against Everton is worth finding on Twitter, but this video of the Liverpool boss and his players attempting famous Hollywood lines will make your day…
Winner of the week
So much time has been spent bemoaning his injuries that it’s nice to be talking about his goals, and on Wednesday night Daniel Sturridge netted his 50th Liverpool goal (and possibly 51st depending on whether he beats Philippe Coutinho in a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets the Reds’ fourth against Everton).
It took Sturridge over three years to rack up the half-century, but only 87 games – the fourth-fewest number needed to score 50 in the Reds’ post-war history. Another against Newcastle was a reminder of just how deadly Sturridge is, if fit. Frustratingly though, that’s always a big 'if'.
Loser of the week
After scoring in the Merseyside derby rout of Everton, turning in a man-of-the-match display and leaving the pitch with ‘Sakho, Sakho, Sakho’ ringing in his ears, Mamadou Sakho’s week went downhill rapidly after UEFA informed Liverpool he had failed an anti-doping test, thought to be related to a fat-burning drug.
Although not officially suspended, Liverpool have wisely made him unavailable for selection while a B sample is tested. Kolo Toure got a six-month ban for using his wife’s water tablets while at Manchester City, so it’s a huge concern for the Reds given Sakho has been in cracking form.
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