News — October 3, 2011 21:16

Everton v Liverpool – moving in the right direction

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Since resigning as Liverpool manager after that incredible FA Cup game in February 1991, Kenny Dalglish returned to the Goodison Park dug out.

It was business as usual for the King and by 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon, normal service had resumed – Dalglish reminded everyone who were the main team in Liverpool.

For a neutral, the derby probably lived up to the billing and for a Red, it also lived up to the billing. The game started off with tempo and urgency with both sides doing whatever they could to stamp their mark on the game. At times it felt like a chess match with either side not making the most of their chances. Two chances fell to both side within seconds of each other, Dirk Kuyt with his ‘never say never’ attitude, clinging onto a ball that was heading out of play to set up Luis Suarez who unfortunately headed the ball into the hands of Tim Howard. Everton then went up the other end to force Pepe Reina into action from a trademark Tim Cahill header, with Reina showing us just why he remains one of the best keepers in the world.

Everton persisted and continued applying pressure with Sylvain Distin taking on a rare shot in the box that cleared the crossbar and Louis Saha curling a shot that went wide of Reina’s right post.

Then came the moment that divided opinion all weekend, was it a straight red card or should it have been a yellow? Jack Rodwell was sent off for a challenge against Suarez.

Liverpool themselves have been on the receiving end of some very harsh red card decisions, I guess you win some, you lose some.

Although Liverpool did have a man advantage, that does not necessary equate to a win. Given the context, a local derby, being a man up can sometimes act as an hindrance than an actual advantage. With Merseyside pride at stake, Everton were never going to accept anything but a win, especially in front of their fans and this proved to be the case. Everton remained adventurous and resilient pushing forward for the opening goal.

The next key moment came in the 43rd minute when Suarez, cleverly shielded the ball and forced Phil Jagielka into committing a foul. Penalty was the shout and the ever reliable and dependable Kuyt stepped up to take the spot kick. Kuyt looking for his 50th Premier League goal was denied the landmark goal from a Tim Howard save.

Kuyt stepped up to take the penalty last season at Anfield and arguably under more pressure put the penalty away but on Saturday, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Before the half time whistle, another chance fell to Liverpool with Charlie Adam taking on a 25 yard shot, only to meet the same fate of long range shots taken by Liverpool players this season, a lick of paint. The long range shots for Liverpool not wanting to find the back of the net.

It was a patient game during the second half with Everton determined to make life difficult for the Reds. The blue rear guard was stubborn and with the clock running down, Liverpool’s adventure was being tested. Some teams may have got nervous and started to doubt whether they would take anything from the game but Liverpool did not panic and patiently continued their quest for a goal.  The new look Liverpool under the King seemed to bear a calmness that the great teams of the past have possessed.

Some may have succumbed given the story of the game; 10 man Everton, Liverpool missing a penalty and hitting the crossbar, scores still 0-0 with 20 minute to go. But not Liverpool, they continued to labour with Andy Carroll chipping away at the Everton defence.

Changes were made by Dalglish, on came Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy, and their impact was immediate. Bellamy linking up well with Jose Enrique, slid a measured pass for the left back who went on to cross the ball towards Kuyt. Kuyt then ducked his head for the incoming Andy Carroll. Carroll adjusting his body to meet the ball with his favoured left foot and smashed the ball into the goal to put the Reds 1-0 up. The patience and perseverance had paid off. Liverpool had managed the breakthrough.

Dalglish’s masterful changes seemed to work a treat. This was the second time in the season when changes made by Dalgish had a instant impact, the first being the at the Arsenal game when Dalglish sent on Suarez and Raul Meireles who both came off the bench to make a match winning contribution. The same happened again on Saturday.

With Liverpool in the ascendency, the game was put to bed in the 82nd minute when the ever present Suarez scored Liverpool’s second after a comical mix up between Distin and Leyton Baines. Suarez showing his class in putting away his opportunity smoothly.

Kuyt came close to his 50th goal near the end but his shot was to find the woodwork. It did not matter as the 216th meeting between these two Merseyside clubs would end with a red victory. The city and the bragging rights belonged to the red half of Merseyside. With Everton yet to play at Anfield, the double remains a real possibility.

Moving in the right direction

 

Dalglish highlighting again that he is not afraid of making tough decisions. Starting the game with Kuyt instead of Jordan Henderson seemed to be the right call. Kuyt doing what he is great at and putting in that double shift that we have all come to appreciate.

Liverpool have not won the league for over two decades but what they showed on Saturday was a work ethic that highlighted the impact and experience of one man. Kenny’s influence is clearly filtering through.

Last week I mentioned how Liverpool held off Wolves to secure the win and this week the same winning mentality was evident.  There seems to be a never say die attitude which is beginning to resonate with the Reds.

Liverpool had one of their better games this season but a sterner challenge lies ahead in the form of Man Utd. The Redmen blew away the Manchester club during their last meeting in March with Kuyt scoring a hatrick.

Will Kuyt repeat his feat again? Will lightning strike twice for Dirk Kuyt?  We certainly hope so. Liverpool are beginning to ask the right questions again.

The mood has changed – the mood is good – in Kenny we trust.

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