03 April 2017

Visualized: Liverpool 3-1 Everton

Previous Match Infographics: Manchester City (h), Burnley (a), Arsenal (h), Leicester (a), Tottenham (h), Hull (a), Chelsea (h), Swansea (h), Manchester United (a), Sunderland (a), Manchester City (a), Stoke (h), Everton (a), Middlesbrough (a), West Ham (h), 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.

Thanks, Everton.

Even at full-strength, Everton would have to have been at their best to get any sort of result against Liverpool. There's the disparity in both squad and finances, league position, and recent record. Liverpool are now unbeaten in the last 14 Merseyside Derbies, a streak dating back to October 2010. It's Liverpool's second-longest unbeaten streak against their City rivals since Liverpool's promotion back in the First Division in 1962, one behind the unbeaten-in-15 stretch from March 1972 until October 1978.

But Everton didn't need to make it easier for Liverpool. And Koeman's personnel and tactics, some forced and some by choice, made it easier for Liverpool.

In theory, three/five at the back makes sense. You want to deny Liverpool space to operate in the final third, as so many other sides have done to reasonable success this season. Three central defenders clutters the final third, especially if you keep the wing-backs deep and have a player like Idrissa Gueye to go and destroy.

In practice, it failed miserably, because Tom Davies is much more an attacking midfielder than a defensive midfielder and Idrissa Gueye didn't destroy but ran headlessly and poor Matthew Pennington was woefully out of his depth. And Liverpool fully exploited those players.

Let's play a quick game. It's called "where are Everton's central midfielders?"

And here's a bonus image. Which way do you think Coutinho's going to go, Matthew Pennington?

Idrissa Gueye, who's been so good this season, had a starring role in all three Liverpool goals. Beaten by Mané to start the move for the first after rashly charging and diving in. Beaten by Coutinho just before the second, having to try to charge him down when out of position earlier. Outpaced by Coutinho just before the third, leaving the space for Coutinho to roll it in for Origi as Davies doesn't get back and Williams' is sucked towards the ball.

But Liverpool still needed to get past Everton players before each of the goals. Which Liverpool did, because Liverpool were really good on the ball on Saturday, especially in the first half and especially in the final third.

Each goal featured a reasonably long run from a Liverpool player before scoring, with two successful take-ons from Mané in the opening goal, another from Coutinho in the second goal. Six of those 17 successful take-ons came from Coutinho, all in the final third, six of the seven he attempted.

It really was Coutinho's best game since returning from injury. He scored just his second goal since coming back, following a consolation at Leicester, and tallied his first assist. His three key passes were a joint-high since coming back. He put both of his shots on-target, both from inside the box. And those six of seven dribbles were by far his best since his return, with just nine successful dribbles from 26 in total in the nine previous league matches since his return.

The beating of Gueye before scoring aside, this was probably my favorite.

And, of course, it helps when you finish your chances so exceptionally. Just 10 Liverpool shots, none a clear-cut chance, but six on-target and three goals. None of Liverpool goals were an exceptionally easy finish. Only three blocked shots, only one – Origi from wide on the left – off-target. 60% shot accuracy, 42.86% goal conversion. Liverpool aren't hitting those marks in many matches.

Meanwhile, for the third derby in a row, Everton offered next to nothing at the other end. Lukaku, averaging 2.8 shots per 90, 1.4 key passes per 90, and with 21 goals and six assists on the season, created just one chance. That's after taking just one shot in December's meeting at Goodison, and failing to register either a shot or assist in last season's 4-0 win at Anfield. For the second-straight derby, Ross Barkley's performance was notable solely for staying on the pitch despite yet another horror tackle. And, like Pennington, poor Calvert-Lewin was simply out of his depth, a surprising choice given both Mirallas – who's actually played well against Liverpool! – and Valencia on the bench.

Of course, Liverpool did concede – an equalizer no less – but that's been done to death. Corners, specifically the second ball from a corner, etc etc etc until the end of time. And the score was level for all of two minutes and 57 seconds. Yawn.

I am surely tempting fate by writing this, but I can't help myself. The beatings will continue until morale improves, Everton.


Anonymous said...

Barkley should have been sent off twice. Williams atleast a red for the tackle on Can.

Lionel Leow said...

If mane is out for the rest of the season I think we are screwed