No Allan & DCL from the start, Gomes in for Sigurdsson & Coleman coming in to allow the shuffling of the back 4 or was it a back 5? Herr Klopp playing upto the Sky cameras before kick off said “I will have time to work it out”....
Within 3 minutes James Rodriguez had taken the ball out of the air, brought it down & played it in-between LFC’s centre backs. Richarlison, onside & rapid was onto it with the freedom of the Kop end, Alisson tried to narrow the angle but Richarlison had taken the shot probably earlier than the goalkeeper had expected & with far more composure than he’d expected. If only LFC had their supporters at the ground, this would never have happened. 0-1, Martin Tyler almost speechless.
It had all happened so fast, Klopp hadn’t worked out what Carlo was doing, it was a 3-5-2, 5-3-2, 4–4-2 & an occasional 4-5-1, at the heart of it all were 4 players in particular that were key to stability & calmness. Keane, Godfrey, Holgate & Davies throughout the game kept the discipline & shape of the team, in & out of possession, Keane’s management of the defenders stopped SALAHHHHHHH & MANEEEEEE as Martin Tyler likes to call them from getting in behind or around the full backs, even ‘the best left back in world lad’ couldn’t find any space, Ancelotti had for this half nullified anything from wide, which meant LFC had to fo through the middle which played even further into Everton’s hands.
For the first time in an a very long time Everton had more mobility than LFC in midfield, Gomes & Doucoure were not having their best games, but they were breaking things up & spoiling, Davies was picking up the loose balls & finding James as often as he could to feed Richarlison, who had isolated the very poor Kabak. But even in the worst defence in Germany, they’d spotted promise....Richarlison annihilated him all game. It was a mismatch, a horrible mismatch. A rare visit to the Everton box saw the dreadful Firmino’s effort go wide off a Keane block, the frustration in the commentary box was making the viewing even better. Then Pickford made a fantastic save from a Henderson effort that was perhaps edging into the bottom corner. Then disaster struck for the home team, the October cry’s of “Muuummm, Muuumm, Hendo’s scored Muuuumm, was now replaced by “Muuuum, Muuummm Hendo’s injured Muuuummmm” Another mysterious muscle injury for the ‘Champions’...if only those Isotonic recovery drinks that they used to use were still around??
Coleman had a glorious chance to put Everton 0-2 up before the break, Digne’s cross acrobatically headed straight at Alisson, if it was a forward you’d be disappointed that it wasn’t a goal, but this was like a centre half having a one on one with the keeper, you’d like him to score, but he’s not a forward. It was one of those. HT 0-1, We’re half way there!!
The Sky cameras were trained on ‘Big Virg’ at various points of the game & whilst sat in his seat poised for a revenge celebration wave of his crutches, he must have wondered what he was watching. It’d only get worse ‘Virg’, wrap up warm kid, you don’t want to catch cold feet, especially in that wind.
No changes from either manager, Klopp playing to ‘Virg Cam’ & giving a rallying cry in a huddle at pitch side & credit to his players for the first 10 minutes of the second half they tried to pull their manager out of the spot he’d put them in, you know, the overspending on an ill fitted midfielder at the expense of a decent back up centre back..... those ‘Idea balls’ & thumbs up’s just aren’t cutting it in this league. But James with 5 goals & 8 assists is really struggling apparently? That’s the James with more assists at Anfield than the ‘Game changer’ & ‘Signing of the summer’. I can confirm that LFC’s game has changed a lot since Thiago turned up for his one last payday. Or is it that Klopp has had to put his first choice centre midfield into his back 4? Either way, Everton were not being accused of being ahead of an understrength LFC team, that excuse for Klopp was washed away a long time ago. He bought terribly & neglected squad depth. That’s all there is to it. Nobody was going to take away from or discredit this Everton performance.
So once MANEEEEE had a tame header saved by the assured Pickford, he started to fall over & referee Kavanagh was having none of it. Jones was replaced by Shaqiri & he almost linked up with SALAHHHHHH, but once again Pickford was out to smother the shot & reclaim it. LFC were desperate, yet Carlo bided his time & the players stuck the game plan, restrict space behind, stifle midfield. Doucoure & Gomes had stopped tackling eachother by now, Davies still picking up the loose ends. It was going too well wasn’t it?
Eventually Sigurdsson replaced Gomes & Dom replaced James, the games biggest moment orchestrated by him. How’s the view ‘Virg’? On 70 minutes the unthinkable happened, SALAHHHHHH was edging passed Digne on the edge of the box, when he got just inside the box his legs completely gave way, nothing given by Kavanagh, Jamie Carragher on comms “That’s a dive by Mo Salah”... you what Jamie, you actually saw it???
A loose ball at the edge of the area fell between Shaqiri & Godfrey, Ben sprinted 10 yards and thew himself into the tackle that ‘fat calf’s’ wanted none of. In fairness, if It’d been a 50/50, Godfrey would have sent Shaqiri back to the lollipop guild (google it)
Carlo had gone 2 up front with Dom & Richarlison, clearly sensing blood. If LFC scored, we’d score again, no doubts. On 81 minutes Tom Davies as calm as you like plays a slide rule ball from a congested box through to Richarlison midway in his own half. Richarlison had worked tirelessly all game, but still had the energy to spin Phillips & leave him for dead, Dom breaking from halfway & in a foot race with EA sports’s darling & now using just one name ‘Trent’ latched on to Richarlison diagonal & shot first time, Alisson saved but spilled, Dom followed up & tangled with ‘Trent’, Penalty given, PENALTY GIVEN!!!!!!
“That’s not a penalty” claimed ‘Carra’ on comms, Mr Kavanagh begged to differ after Andre Mariner was too scared to make a decision from the VAR desk. Penalty Given from the pitch side monitor.
Say what you want about Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he’s scored some big goals for us this season, if some of his performances have been more than questionable. But as cool as you like it was dispatched, if only a full away section at the Anfield Rd end was there to take it in. 0-2. We’re almost there!!!
LFC had nothing to offer, a Wijnaldum speculative shot was tipped over by Pickford, more in caution than anything else, & the clock counted down. And as the clock counted down the ghosts of horrific games & performances started to fade away. The mental block of the ‘Red wall’ was breached. FT 0-2. It was done.
The scenes on the pitch were no doubt mirrored in millions of Blue homes around the world. Tears would have been shed, there were in my house. I’ve waited, & prayed every year for 22 years for this, even when we’ve had better teams than them, poor management & a bottlers mentality have held us back.
Ancelotti is the difference. Ancelotti is the reason to believe.
Enjoy your Sunday, make sure when you go to work on Monday the Kopites know what colour the City is. 💙
The easy bit done - now to take care of Man City and get the meaningful trophies back in our cabinet again.
For what the result was (sweeter than sweet), the very fact that we defended better than one of the best teams in Europe for a full 90 minutes is testament to the players' character.
The fact that despite monopolising possession and territory (as others have done against us), Liverpool rarely, if ever, looked like scoring. It was purely that we'd screwed up so many time in the past that Liverpool fans could still hope that their team - minus the best defender in the world - could possibly peg us back.
They simply had no answer.
For Carlo Ancelotti, private joy in outwitting his opposite number in Klopp, knowing it will eat away at the German, is perfectly understandable.
But what can WE, the fans, take away from the performance that previous matches had yet to confirm?
Well, the fact that Allan did not need to even make an appearance is gold dust to resting him as much as we possibly can, knowing how massive it would be to get past Man City in the F.A. Cup quarter-final.
Ancelotti has taken criticism over his subsitiution decisions against Fulham and Man City.
At Anfield, in getting this monster result, Ancelotti couldn't have played it any better;
1. Gomes to Sigurdsson:
the manager had to decide whether to trust Andre Gomes' self-restraint in that second-half, knowing he had been sanctioned more than just a yellow card in the first.
Deciding not to trust him, he simply gave him 10 minutes before slowing down procedures with the Sigurdsson replacement.
2. Rodriguez to Calvert-Lewin:
The moment of vision and magical control from James Rodriguez quite ruthlessly exposed how our neighbours are struggling without their most purposeful player [we'll make no further mention of him]. Slicing through that back line with an ever-willing runner in Richarlison, the Brazilian did what we needed him to do - score.
Though he'll rarely last 90 minutes, what James did was give the rest of his team confidence to keep the football, as his presence has done all season.
The fact was, we needed to give Richarlison someone to help him retain possession in Liverpool's half of the pitch. DCL did this well enough to give the rest of our players hope to hold out on the growing pressure, and like at home to Chelski - it was DCL who won the crucial penalty.
Hopefully he didn't return too quickly for his long-term fitness (he's already had two hamstring twinges this season), but without his contribution...
3. Iwobi to add a fresh pair of legs and see out time with a 0-2 grip on the game, not so much to note here, other than Allan not being needed to play; thus getting more rest and recuperation time. We'll badly need him for tougher games than this - in hindsight - actually was.
So all credit to Carlo, but what about the players?
The 5-4 win over Spurs was massive for Tom Davies's own self-belief, but also his manager's trust in how much he can genuinely offer our game. He was awesome at Anfield yesterday.
Ditto for all the defenders AND the under-fire goalkeeper.
Wasn't the Ben Godfrey tackle a joy to watch, in that such opportunities to lay down the law with a crunching challenge come around so rarely against top class opposition Liverpool [apparently] are?
But one player has been showing exceptional courage AND character not only to give his 100% every game, but to carry out his duty of turning defence into attack at the first chance possible.
Those who watched the Man City defeat may have missed the player who (when having conceded first), collected the ball between his two centre-halves and with full conviction got us moving forwards - and Ciry's players backwards - leading directly to the Richarlison equaliser.
That night, and yesterday at Anfield: Doucoure's ball control and distribution could very easily have been questioned. But his unwavering desire never to quit on his team, nor his appetite to get us going again when our play didn't succeed has been sorely missing for all-too-long, before Moshiri gave Brands & Ancelotti the money needed to get Doucoure here.
In Allan's absence, Tom Davies has been superb. Abdouyale Doucoure's contribution to the team's overall high performances has been equal. We did very well to get him here in the Summer and should all be delighted for everything he's giving us.
So the only minus we could possibly have to accept from this massive day at Anfield was the fact we had to call back DCL so quickly from injury.
Given how long it's taken for Man City to get into their stride and how losing key players through a packed fixture list are hurting our rivals, drawing 0-0 at home to Southampton - IN DCL's ABSENCE - may have to be accepted.
But in the medium-to-long-term, things are really starting to look bright again. Ancelotti may be the biggest contributor, but we have many key personnel delivering for us in many ways that simply were not in previous decades' predecessors.
Long may this continue...
"Don't you turn too - if I ever change..."
Mark Reynolds, one half of Liverpool's second-finest band ever: Red Flag.
(The band name purely a reference to the motor racing signal that stops F1/IndyCar races, not our neighbours.)