Liverpool won the Merseyside derby on Sunday to stay within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester City, beating Everton 2-0 with both goals coming in the second half. The Reds entered the day four points back after City beat Watford on Saturday, but goals by Andrew Robertson and Divock Origi earned the hosts a crucial win while damaging the chances of survival of their city rivals. Everton, after losing this one and seeing Burnley beat Wolves, find themselves in the bottom three and facing relegation if they don’t improve.
Things need to change quickly for Everton as they fell into the drop zone for the first time this season. Liverpool dominated possession but patient defending, time wasting and a dash of petulance from Everton frustrated the Reds during the first half. Everton only completed 32 passes in the opening half.
In the second half, the introduction of Origi and Luis Diaz in the 60th minute changed things for the home side. It would be an instant impact for Origi as he played a good exchange of passes with Mohamed Salah before Salah crossed the ball to Robertson for the opener in the 62nd minute.
The goal took the wind out of Everton’s sails and Liverpool were unlucky not to get another goal right after as they pushed the pace. Allan had to block Joel Matip’s attempt in the 66th minute before Salah fired it just over the net with an excellent chance to double Liverpool’s lead. Everton’s best chance in the second half was a good cross from Dele Ali but Robertson cleared things out before Alex Iwobi could connect. While Everton performed better to stay in the match, the difference in the quality of the teams was apparent on the day, especially when Origi, Jordan Henderson, and Diaz combined for an insurance goal late on.
Next up for Liverpool is a massive Champions League clash with Villarreal on Wednesday live on Paramount+. Everton’s attempt to claw out of the bottom three will continue next Sunday with another tough match where the Toffees will host Chelsea.
Here are a few takeaways from the match:
Does the Championship await Everton?
Interim manager Mike Jackson is pushing all the right buttons for Burnley and they’ve picked up seven points since firing Sean Dyche. The team has a belief that hasn’t been seen recently and they’ve finally poked their heads above the red line due to the good form of Wout Weghorst and Connor Roberts. The flip side of this is that Everton’s victory over Manchester United and draw with Leicester City hasn’t been enough to keep pace as they’ve slipped into 17th place. Everton are one of six Premier League sides to have never been relegated.
With Chelsea, Leicester, and Watford in their next three matches, even if the Toffees win their game in hand they’ll need help to climb above Burnley in the table due to the Claret’s having a five-goal advantage on goal differential.
Adjustments win titles
Liverpool clearly struggled in the first half as they didn’t adjust to dealing with Everton’s low block. An attack as prolific as theirs not getting a shot on target in a half against Everton, even in a derby match, would have been a disappointment for Jurgen Klopp, but he was able to switch things up with the introduction of Origi and Diaz.
The Reds ripped off 15 shots for an xG of 1.83 in the second half leading to two goals. And the defense held strong allowing Everton to only have one shot on target. While Liverpool will need help being one point behind Manchester City with both teams having played a similar number of games, Klopp’s ability to adjust in-game is what will keep Liverpool in the race until the final day of the season.
Big game Origi
Everton already knew the danger of Origi coming on following his added-time winner against Everton in 2018, and all of the away fans had to have the goal in the back of their heads when he came into the match Sunday. And as he generally does, Origi delivered playing a critical role in the first goal after being on the pitch for only two minutes before scoring the insurance goal, once again proving his worth off the bench. Origi has always been there when called on, and even though he had 17 touches during this time in the match, each touch was critical to Liverpool pulling out the victory.