Analysis: Toothless Everton fail to break Merseyside Derby hoodoo

Analysis: Toothless Everton fail to break Merseyside Derby hoodoo

Analysis from the 0-0 Merseyside Derby draw at Goodison Park.

connor-bennett
Connor Bennett

Everton finished Saturday’s Merseyside Derby with one shot on target when Yannick Bolasie was denied, unbelievably, by an outstretched Lorius Karius.

They’d come closer, agonisingly so, with a late second-half flurry but they weren’t able put the ball away nor register a second shot on target.

The Blues had their best chance to pick up a derby day win for the first time since 2010 but let it slip away from their grasp.

Toothless Blues lacked edge

When the Liverpool team sheet was handed to Sam Allardyce, the Blues boss should have been rubbing his hands at the prospect of being able to add the end of Everton’s Merseyside Derby drought to his CV.

There was no Mohamed Salah. Roberto Firmino was relegated to the bench and Sadio Mane started as the lone representative of the now ‘fab three.’

With Mane supporting Danny Ings, returning from injury and youngster Dominic Solanke - the Blues backline had little to no issue defending their net.

Defensively, Jurgen Klopp made changes as he opted to start Nathaniel Clyne and Ragnar Klavan at full-back.

The Blues should have been giddy at the thought of getting at Klavan, who isn’t a natural left-back and Clyne, who was making his first Premier League appearance of the season after fighting a niggling back injury for the longest period of time.

Yet, they didn’t.

Theo Walcott failed to make his presence felt until that late second-half flurry - operating more as a double up right-back next to Seamus Coleman instead of in front of him.

Yannick Bolasie’s performance can be best described as disastrous with his second-half withdrawal being cheered by pockets of the Goodison Park crowd.

Only when Bolasie was replaced by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a natural striker, did the Blues start to impose a threat on the left-hand side.

For Allardyce’s team selection, it’s back to the drawing board before the end of the season.

 

Pickford saves, defensively better

Barring injury or an utterly disastrous end to the season, Jordan Pickford looks all but set to be England’s number one at the World Cup.

Whilst he has conceded a staggering 53 Premier League goals this season, he has still been Everton’s shining light and will almost certainly win Player of the Year honours at the annual end of season awards night.

Saturday’s display showcased just why both of those things are the case and both deserved.

His superb first-half save from James Milner’s curled effort was an example of his effortless shot-stopping ability. His distribution was fine and would have been helped by his teammates looking to start attacks much quicker than they did.

The much-maligned Michael Keane was given man of the match honours and capped off his solid defensive performance with a second-half double slide tackle that raised the noise levels inside Goodison Park as they looked to go flat.

Next to Phil Jagielka, Keane has looked like the player Everton splashed out for last summer.

However, unlike Pickford, he isn’t likely to be on the plane for the World Cup unless something dramatically changes.

 

Rooney, Rooney, Rooney?

How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney? It’s a question that has raised a big debate in the fallout of the Derby.

Since rejoining Everton in the summer, the issue with Rooney hasn’t been regarding his goalscoring ability or, for the most part, his performances - but where he actually fits into the Blues’ team.

The old Wayne Rooney - the Manchester United Wayne Rooney - is gone. He is no longer able to lead the line as a striker so that’s out of the question.

His playmaking ability is fine but Gylfi Sigurdsson is a longer term answer as a creative midfielder so playing as a number ten, when the Icelandic international returns from injury, is also out of the question.

Having him play as a central midfielder is fine when Everton are in the position to control the tempo of a game - his performance in the win over Brighton and Hove Albion a few weeks ago was perhaps his best since returning to the club.

Yet, putting him in against much better midfields - like he has in the past two weeks against Manchester City and Liverpool - is going to be a problem.

Perhaps he needs to be man managed better. Perhaps game plans need to be curated and managed better too.

Or, perhaps, in the near future, Rooney is destined to make his move across the Atlantic to the MLS where he can see out his days doing whatever he wants.

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