10 December 2017

Liverpool 1-1 Everton

Salah 42'
Rooney 77' [pen]

We've been Allardyced. And Pawsoned. And it's really damned annoying.

But the story is still the story we've known before, even if it's been awhile since seeing that story. If Liverpool don't score more than one, Liverpool are at risk of doing a Liverpool. Which is exactly what happened, even if it was never a penalty because come the hell on.

It's everybody's fault.

It's Sam Allardyce's fault, because he made the game exactly as ugly as he always does. That felt more like a Sam Allardyce match than a Merseyside Derby. Not ugly as in vicious, which these games can be, but ugly as in the least ambitious side Liverpool's faced this season. Which is completely their right, and proven right. Two massively, massively deep lines of four, the most possession Liverpool have had in a match this season. The most since losing 0-2 to Burnley in August 2015, actually.

It's Jürgen Klopp's fault, because Liverpool couldn't cope with the ugly. Because Klopp kept Firmino and Coutinho out, again using the full squad to prevent the winter collapse which happened last season. Because he continued to make unexpected changes to the starting XI but this time got burned. Because that 4-3-3 couldn't play through the middle because Henderson and Milner aren't creative enough and Mané and Salah were too wide, and crossing did not work. Eight Liverpool shots in the first 41 minutes of the match: three off-target, five blocked. Five from outside the box, just one in the Danger Zone.

It's not Mohamed Salah's fault, because in the 42nd minute, Mohamed Salah did Mohamed Salah things, turning Cuco Martina, beating Idrissa Gana, and curling an unstoppable shot past Pickford to finally break the deadlock. His 13th goal in the league this season, his 19th goal in all competitions. He's really good at the football.

It's Sadio Mané's fault, because just before halftime, Mané wins possession and steams towards goal and he's got three runners inside for a tap-in and he screws a left-footed shot wide of the goal. That was Liverpool's first clear-cut chance of the game. And 2-0 kills the game. It kills it dead. Liverpool desperately needed 2-0. Liverpool would not get 2-0. This remains unforgivable.

It's Jürgen Klopp's fault, because he took off Liverpool's best player in the 67th minute. That was Klopp's adjustment to Allardyce's changes. Not Can or Wijnaldum for bodies in midfield. Not Coutinho for creation. Firmino – who is a very good player who I like very much but does the pressing more than anything else and that's not what was needed – for Salah. I understand worries about player overload, especially in regards to Salah, but we've proven time and time again that 1-0 isn't enough for Liverpool.

And 1-0 wasn't enough today. Even though Everton had next to no possession, even though Everton had all of two shots to that point, both from well outside the box and not dangerous in the slighest.

It's Craig Pawson's fault, because that was almost as soft a penalty as Brighton's in Liverpool's last match. It's Dejan Lovren's fault because he did a Dejan Lovren thing again. It's Firmino's fault, because he tried an incredibly unlikely back heel to try to get a doubly-marked Mané a chance at goal and lost possession and now Liverpool have five players ahead of the ball (including both left-sided players) and Everton countered down Liverpool's left side and Rooney crossed to Calvert-Lewin from deep and Calvert-Lewin fell over because Lovren looked in his direction.

And it's Liverpool's fault. Because, once again, Liverpool lost a one-goal lead they took into the 70th minute. As at Watford, against Sevilla, at Sevilla, and against Chelsea. Because, once again, Liverpool couldn't find a needed late winner; the last time Liverpool got one after the 70th minute was 2-1 at Stoke last April. The last time Liverpool got one after the 80th minute was at Everton almost a calendar year ago. Because, once again, substitutions did little and the other manager's changes helped more than Liverpool's.

23 shots to three. 79% possession. And Liverpool drew. Because they couldn't create more chances, they couldn't take the few chances they did create, and then they committed one soft, unlucky, and stupid mistake that a referee absolutely helped. And then dropped points from a winning position for the fifth time this season and the 23rd time since Klopp became manager. Against the team you want to beat more than any other.

It is absolutely infuriating.

But here's the thing. Liverpool are still unbeaten in their last 10 matches. Liverpool are still fourth, a point ahead of Arsenal and two ahead of Tottenham. Everton still haven't won a Merseyside Derby since Roy Freaking Hodgson was manager. Mo Salah remains amazing, Joe Gomez is an absolute prodigy, and on the whole, Liverpool did more good things than bad things today. In the seventh match the side's had to play in the last three weeks.

Still. It could have been more. It should have been more. And – not to be too selfish after all the good we've seen over the last eight weeks – it's certainly not for the first time this season.

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