Everton put in a hard-working and driven performance to improve to five unbeaten in the Merseyside Derby
Everton returned to the friendly confines of Goodison Park on Saturday Afternoon for the 241st rendition of the Merseyside Derby. The side saw a couple of a changes from the 1-1 draw at Leeds, including the introduction of new signing Neal Maupay into the starting eleven and the return of Idrissa Gana Gueye who started from the bench.
The match started off fiery in typical derby day fashion as Everton looked up to the fight despite an early lack of possession. A chance would come early for the blues in the 8th minute, as the home side countered well via Demari Gray; He played in Neal Maupay who got caught in two minds deciding between the shot and the layoff to Anthony Gordon from close range and could only pull his effort wide of the post.
Darwin Nunez would miss a chance via a header ten minutes later, and Everton would see their next chance in the 23rd minute. Anthony Gordon would receive the ball on the edge of the box following a corner and strike a powerful effort towards the bottom right corner that was saved by Alisson in goal. One of the biggest moments in the match would come in the 32nd minute, Gordon led the break brilliantly skipping through a crowd of Liverpool players before directing his pass towards Neal Maupay. The striker’s effort was blocked and it fell to Tom Davies who must have felt shades of the 2020 Merseyside Derby at Goodison as his well struck effort with the outside of his boot rattled the post. It was a huge let off and the blues would feel they should have had the lead.
Right before the half Liverpool would come inches away from opening the scoring as Darwin Nunez struck from a tight angle and produced a world-class save from Jordan Pickford off of a deflection. Luis Diaz would get onto the rebound before cutting inside and unleashing a curling effort that clattered the post but stayed out. End to end action would see all but the goal in the first half as the sides went into the half level at 0-0.
The second half would start off with a tidal wave of visiting pressure as the introduction of a deep-lying Roberto Firmino caused the blues trouble. After a number of Liverpool chances and a trio of wonderful Pickford saves in the 63rd minute, it would be Everton’s turn to take control of the match. The toffees would counter beautifully and the ball would come to the new signing Maupay in the 65th minute baring down on Alisson’s goal, but somehow he was denied from less than five yards out as he failed to place the ball out of reach.
The introduction of Idrissa Gueye right before the Maupay chance would provide Everton with another layer of bite in the midfield, and the advantage was showing. It looked as if the blues had taken the lead as Gray delivered a cross to the far post, which Maupay controlled brilliantly before laying off to Coady who tapped in to take the roof off of Goodison Park. Unfortunately for Everton, as it often seems to break in the Merseyside Derby, the goal was ruled out on a VAR check for offside and play resumed at 0-0.
Onana would go down in the 76th minute following a dangerous studs-up challenge from Van Dijk who was lucky to only receive a yellow in a moment that will surely be discussed in the days following. Eight minutes later substitute Dwight McNeil came close to giving Everton the lead as his curling effort was deflected and looping towards goal, requiring a save from Alisson to keep the scoreline level.
Firmino would come close in the 87th minute but be denied by another great Pickford save, and Salah would hit the post in the 95th minute as the result of yet another brilliant Pickford denial in goal. Tired legs showed for the toffees late on, but Everton was rewarded for a spirited and cohesive team effort in front of the bear pit at Goodison Park and earned a hard fought draw to make it five unbeaten on the trot for Frank Lampard and company.
The introduction of Neal Maupay made an instant impact on the cohesion of this Everton side, a striker up top proved night in day in the threat Everton were able to provide and the new man did quite well despite missing the chance in the second half. A word for Onana, Davies and Gueye is needed because all three played brilliantly. Kevin Thelwell and Everton have revamped this midfield from last season and alongside a backline that looks brilliant across the board should make the blues much harder to beat. Pickford was awarded MOTM and rightfully so following an outstanding eight save performance, and the match should provide Everton confidence ahead of a very tough game away to Arsenal next Sunday.