Five things Liverpool learned from the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park
Liverpool drew with Frank Lampard’s Everton at Goodison Park in the Merseyside Derby on Saturday afternoon. A decent defensive performance from the Toffees saw them hold out their arch-rivals. No player stood out exceptionally well apart from Luis Diaz and Joe Gomez. This game should act as an eye-opener and Jurgen Klopp should question a few of his decisions about why the Reds didn’t walk back into the tunnel after 90 minutes with a positive result. Here are five things we learned from the derby.
1. Virgil van Dijk’s form is questionable
Maybe it is because Liverpool do not have any starter quality centre-backs on the bench. Plus the fact that Ibrahima Konate is unavailable. But the fact of the matter is, that Virgil van Dijk needs to take a break. This might sound unpleasant to the ears of a few fans, but Big Virg has been merely a shadow of himself this season.
He gave away the penalty at Craven Cottage and more recently, did not even attempt to block Jadon Sancho’s attempt at goal when Liverpool played Manchester United at Old Trafford. His form is on a downward scale off-late.
Likely due to an ACL injury two seasons ago. The Dutch captain was almost twice the player he is right now last season. Frustrations on the former Celtic man were clearly visible given he was shown a yellow card for a very late challenge around the 75th minute against Everton. He is being too safe this season, and not committing to duels, which leaves most of the work on Alisson’s shoulders. A motivating pat on the back from the gaffer, and a few games on the bench should do him a world of good.
Van Dijk’s atrocious form is so clear that all of his defensive partners this season, including Nathaniel Phillips have been clearly better than him. Nevertheless, all things said and done, VVD needs to step his game up.
2. Liverpool can not afford to play James Milner at right-back anymore
It felt like James Milner took a day or two to get adjusted to the pace of the game against Everton. He replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 60th minute. It’s almost shocking that Klopp subbed Milner on when we needed a goal. Everton debutant Neal Maupay beat Milner inside the box, for the Frenchman to square it to Conor Coady who just tapped it in.
Thankfully for the Reds, the Wolverhampton loanee was offside. He just can’t seem to beat any winger on the pace front, and tends to give away cheap fouls. At this age, Milner can only be used as fodder, especially in his primary position only. He is a Liverpool legend but as harsh as this may sound, James Milner’s time at Liverpool might be finished.
3. Roberto Firmino needed to start
W three goals and three assists in five appearances this season, Roberto Firmino has rarely put a foot wrong bar the Manchester United game. He also scored the Reds’ opening goal against Newcastle United last game. There was no reason as to why the Brazilian was dropped from the starting XI. Liverpool’s highest goal-scorer, and assist maker.
Still dropped for Darwin Nunez, who just came back from suspension. Even when he came on at halftime, he made an instant difference with his use of the ball and pressing. Jordan Pickford denied him a goal on two separate occasions. A questionable decision from the gaffer to drop one of his most consistent players. But to be fair, his replacement had a good few chances earlier in the game, again denied by a Pickford masterclass on the day.
4. Mohamed Salah needs to step up
As has been the case since as early as AFCON in February, Mohamed Salah’s form has seen a dip as well. Even in the game against Everton today, he seemed out of place. It was a very sad outing for the Egyptian. Even in Liverpool’s game against Bournemouth, he didn’t contribute a single goal or an assist.
It came as a shock as the rest of Liverpool’s attack racked up nine goals and it is not daily that Liverpool scores and Salah is not involved. His numbers have dipped, and as fans, we would hope for the former Roma man to get back his mojo and better his stats from last season.
5. Fabio Carvalho injury
The problem of injuries never seems to let go of our beloved Reds. And now, Fabio Carvalho is injured. A knee injury reportedly. His first start, and looked a bit bleak. The occasion might have got on to him. Had a below-average outing before he was subbed off, but still has a long career ahead of him.