20 December 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 1-0 Everton

Previous Match Infographics: Middlesbrough (a), West Ham (a), Bournemouth (a), Sunderland (h), Southampton (a), Watford (h), Crystal Palace (a), West Brom (h), United (h), Swansea (a), Hull (h), Chelsea (a), Leicester (h), Tottenham (a), Burnley (a), Arsenal (a)

All match data from Stats Zone and Who Scored.

There has rarely such a vast statistical disparity between these sides at Goodison in recent seasons. As I'm sure you remember, or have seen written more than enough this week, the previous four Goodison derbies – all four under Brendan Rodgers – finished level. 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3. And all four were fairly even matches.

This one wasn't.

Everton, whether under Koeman or Martinez, has not enjoyed playing against Jürgen Klopp. 180 minutes, nine Everton shots. Just one on-target: Williams' tame header straight at Mignolet yesterday. The last time Everton managed just one shot on-target at home was more than a year ago: August 2015 against Manchester City. Zero Everton goals. Everton touched the ball in Liverpool's penalty area all of nine times last night, which is at least an improvement on their five in last season's 4-0 massacre at Anfield. Superstar striker Romelu Lukaku has taken just one off-target shot in these 180 minutes, a popped, awkward header off-target yesterday, silenced by Sakho and Lovren at Anfield then Klavan and Lovren at Goodison.

As much fun as Mané's late, late, late winner was, I'm actually starting to get annoyed that Liverpool didn't win by more. It's the lingering problem that we saw against Bournemouth, West Ham, and even Middlesbrough. Even while still scoring, Liverpool struggle to create shots without Coutinho, well below the side's average in both totals and (until yesterday) accuracy before Coutinho's injury.

Deep breaths. It's a derby. At Goodison. Must be taken in isolation. A first 1-0 league win in 2016, since 1-0 at Sunderland on December 30 last year. Consecutive clean sheets away from home in the league for the first time since Klopp became manager. Everton have now won just one of the last 20 league derbies. Mané's winner. Mané's late, late, late winner. The fume. The delicious, delicious fume.

Okay. I'm better now.

For the first time this season, we've seen late dramatics in Liverpool's favor. Something we saw a lot more frequently last season. The only other matches where Liverpool won it even close to late were at Swansea, with an 84th-minute penalty and against Sunderland, with a 75th-minute Origi strike after being unbelievably kept out prior.

Last season, Liverpool came up with injury-time winners against Dortmund, Palace, and Norwich, as well as late injury-time draws against Chelsea, Arsenal, and West Brom. Unlike against Manchester United and Southampton, a late winner always felt possible yesterday, and was more than deserved given what came before. I truly didn't see one coming in either of those two earlier 0-0s. Nor did it feel like coming in the 2-2 against West Ham.

I am tempted to read too much into this result. In previous seasons, this match probably finishes level, as in those the four previous trips to Goodison. Liverpool won ugly, away from home. The clean sheet, the late winner. Parrying Everton's furious start aside without allowing threatening chances, then the slow turning-of-the-screws that an increasingly fatigued Everton couldn't stop. That all this happened against Everton, on their ground.

There's still a long, long, long way to go. Liverpool will be second at Christmas, but Liverpool remain six points behind the leaders and only four ahead of fifth. Liverpool's attack remains underwhelming with Coutinho absent while Liverpool's defense could still be Liverpool's defense, despite how well Klavan and Lovren (especially Klavan) have played in the last two matches.

But, basking in the afterglow, this feels like the sort of memorable win we look back upon after memorable campaigns.

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