This blog aims to give “rational and passionate opinions on Liverpool Football Club.” Sometimes, however, rationality and passion come into conflict. Yesterday’s Merseyside derby provides the perfect example. Rationality dictates that, as a Red, I’d prefer an instantly forgettable and dreadfully dull 1-0 victory for Liverpool over their arch rivals Everton rather than a thrilling 3-3 draw that yields two fewer points. The former appeals to my mind, the latter to my heart. At the end of the day, though, football is all about passion and emotion and my heart wins over my head.
From the moment the 221st Merseyside derby became the first in the Premier League era to see both sides score in the opening ten minutes, those inside Goodison Park knew they were in for a treat. The pulsating start proved what many on both sides of the red-blue divide had suspected; this was the start of a new era of Merseyside derbies. Under Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, two young managers with remarkably similar footballing philosophies advocating expansive styles of play, the days of cagey, tactical affairs are over and, in their place, is high octane, edge-of-your-seat entertainment as two teams vying to reclaim their previous glories battle it out.
Forget defending, it was all about attacking football from the first to the final whistle yesterday lunchtime. First, Coutinho was left free at the back post to prod home Gerrard’s deep left wing corner. Then, the Blues immediately went up the other end of the pitch and drew level in a similar fashion, as the unmarked Mirallas evaded the attention of Steven Gerrard to turn home a loose ball in the box from Leighton Baines’ free kick.
The respective defences may have been having an off-day, but both goalkeepers were in sensational form throughout the 90 minutes and made spectacular saves that prevented a cricket score being run up. Mignolet made one of those saves to thwart his fellow Belgian Lukaku when he was sent through on goal on twelve minutes. Thankfully, the bizarrely-bearded Howard failed to replicate his opposite number’s heroics seven minutes later, as Luis Suarez somehow squeezed a sublime low free kick around the wall and into the bottom right hand corner, beyond the grasp of the American stopper.
To spice things up even more, Phil Dowd ridiculously decided against showing a red card to Kevin Mirallas just after the half hour mark. The Toffees’ number eleven left stud marks on Luis Suarez’s knee following a dangerously high challenge on the Uruguayan, which Dowd inexplicably deemed only worthy of a booking.
|...and Mirallas kung fu kicks|
After the break, a fine stop from Mignolet was required to keep the visitors’ lead intact, as he blocked Deulofeu’s low effort when the Barcelona loanee was sent one-on-one with the keeper by Mirallas. Joe Allen then squandered a fantastic opportunity to put the Reds’ two ahead at the opposite end on the hour mark, as he somehow shot wide from close range with the goal at his mercy. The Welshman went on to receive a booking and was promptly replaced by Victor Moses. At this rate, Lucas and Henderson need not be worried about losing their place in the team to the £15 million man.
Liverpool’s nemesis Lukaku remained a constant threat for the home side, and Mignolet had to be on top form to deny him twice. There was little he could do on 72 minutes, however, as the Chelsea loanee side-footed home after the Reds’ defence disappointingly failed to deal with a free kick into the area. Lukaku went on to deliver what seemed to be a sucker punch ten minutes from time, as he exploited yet more poor defending to power a header home from a corner kick and put Everton in front for the first time in the contest.
|Lukaku strikes again...|
|...but Sturridge has the last laugh|
In hindsight, a point is slightly disappointing because we were in the lead twice and really should have held on to all three points. As it transpired, though, a point wasn’t too bad an outcome considering we were eight minutes away from losing to the insufferable Toffees.
In the end, the reminder of why we love football that this dramatic derby provided proved priceless.