Monday 11 December 2017

Quality absent in goalless Merseyside derby at Goodison

Everton 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard applauds the supporters after his final Merseyside derby
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard applauds the supporters after his final Merseyside derby
Simon Mignolet makes a save from Seamus Coleman
Liverpool and Everton players clash
Muhamed Besic runs with the ball under pressure from Steven Gerrard
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers issues instructions to his players next to Everton manager Roberto Martinez

Carl Markham

Even his final Merseyside derby could not inspire Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as the 224th meeting of the clubs disappointingly finished goalless. The midfielder was appearing in his 33rd encounter, but it was not one of his more memorable.

Everton made short shrift of their visitors' passing game with a compact defensive unit and hard work in midfield to ensure Gerrard left without the send-off he would have liked. The 34-year-old, who leaves for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer, was first to leave the pitch at the final whistle to boos.

There was not a great deal of quality on show from either side, despite Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers giving exciting 19-year-old Jordon Ibe only his second league start and Everton fielding James McCarthy for the first time since December 28.

As is so often the case, derbies have a great ability to ruin the spectacle purely because of what is at stake. The first half was evidence of that as Everton's work rate and organisation, coupled with Liverpool's hastiness to impose themselves, resulted in a bitty affair.

Gerrard had a free-kick tipped over by Joel Robles, who was beaten by Ibe but saved by the upright, but the Reds lacked decisiveness in the final third.The loss of midfield linchpin Lucas Leiva after 15 minutes was a blow and gave Everton extra encouragement to press their opponents.

Steven Naismith was a constant irritation to that defence while Kevin Mirallas worked tirelessly to drag Mamadou Sakho out to the touchline in order to create space.

Liverpool dominated second-half possession but even with Daniel Sturridge on, having replaced Coutinho who was still feeling the after-effects of those challenges, they struggled to break down the Blues' defence.

Gerrard saw his bicycle kick deflected over by Naismith while Phil Jagielka blocked Sturridge's shot on the turn from close range.

Aaron Lennon, signed by Everton on loan from Spurs on transfer deadline day, made his debut but apart from one skip past Sakho he could not make an impact on the game.

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