Player ratings: Everton 0-0 Liverpool

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For the first time since September, the title is no longer in our hands. After destroying Watford midweek, with a display filled with attacking verve and swagger, we reverted back to a damp squib of a performance, that has become all too familiar recently. That’s five draws in seven games and 0-0 is becoming a worryingly frequent result. Let’s see how the boys fared.

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Alisson (6) - Made a good save in the first half and did his general goalkeeping work well enough but my god, this ridiculously dangerous passing out from the back has to stop. Passed to Trent who was being pressed by two men before he even received the ball and it wasn’t the only time he played  us right into trouble. It’s only a matter of time before we concede another goal due to his poor decision making in these areas. It’s arrogance and it does my nut.

TAA (7) - Really good in the first half and is showing more and more why he’s a vital member of our first team. Not as clinical with his delivery as he was against Watford but still made some excellent interceptions and some really good forward running. Sometimes panics with the final pass when in a good position but that composure will come with experience.

Matip (8) - Another really good display from Matip and his bringing the ball out from the back is becoming a real weapon for us. Or it would be, if only our forwards could capitalise on it. His good form continues though and the fact nobody has really been bemoaning the loss of Gomez, speaks volumes of how good Matip has been in recent weeks.

Van Dijk (9) - Comfortably our best player and no doubt as to this week’s man of the match. Cleared absolutely everything, whether in the air or on the ground and contained a hard working Calvert-Lewin without breaking a sweat. He just effortlessly deals with whatever comes his way. There is no doubt in my mind that we have the best centre back in the world.  He’s better than everyone else without getting out of third gear. Racehorse of a man.

Robertson (8) - Had Theo Walcott in his pocket for the first hour of the game. The only time Walcott got the drop on him was when Matip hadn’t held the defensive line and Robbo expected him to be offside, which he should have been. Richarlison asked a few more questions and drew a booking from Robbo but he was heavily involved throughout the game. Attacking game hampered by Origi, although that may just be through lack of game time together.

Fabinho (5) - Fabinho has been an integral figure in recent weeks but this was a game to forget. Gave the ball away time and again with poor passing and was on the receiving end of a blast from Van Dijk when a particularly sloppy pass played us right into trouble. Missed a sitter in the second half as well. Not quite the finished article yet.

Hendo (6.5) - Hendo was well in his way to an 8 or a 9 in the first half as he won the ball back on a number of occasions and played some superb forward balls, including one Salah probably should have scored from. Faded badly in the second half however and when we needed a midfield general to take control of what was becoming an increasingly frantic game, we didn’t have anyone up to the task. Our best midfielder on the day though.

Wijnaldum (5) - I’m a Gini fan but this was one of those games that Timp talks about. Practically anonymous. Uncharacteristically lost possession a couple of times in the opening 15 minutes and in general, struggled to have any influence in the game at all. No surprise to see his number come up when the substitutions came on. Such a frustrating player on days like today. He needs to believe he’s good enough to be the match winner when, on days like this, others aren’t performing. He is good enough so instead of going into your shell when others are struggling, show you’re a title winning midfielder!

Salah (3) - I never thought I’d say this about a Liverpool player and certainly not one who’s broken all kinds of scoring records but... I’ve got a better first touch than Mo Salah. I’d like to clarify that statement by saying that my first touch is exactly what you’d expect a Scotsman’s (Robbo aside) first touch to be like - pretty bloody rubbish... but it’s better than Salah’s! Salah has a first touch like a hand grenade, it’s bloody ridiculous for a player at his level and as for his passing... I could write an article in its own right about how bad Salah’s passing is. He had three really good opportunities to run clear through on goal today, which he ruined through simply horrible technique... I worry about if Salah can be relied upon long term... The goals have dried up and I always said that when that happened, he offers nothing.

Mane (4) - Mane foolishly thought he could beat Salah in a game of who has the worst passing and first touch. Don’t get me wrong, up against any normal opponent, Mane would have won and he didn’t disgrace himself, even against Salah, who is a master of the game. In all seriousness though, pretty bloody awful. Back on the wing for the next game please.

Origi (4) - I’m looking forward to hearing Ilija’s take on this performance from Origi. Poor movement, slowed the play down, created nothing and the amount of times he killed our momentum in the first half by giving away silly free kicks when we had them penned in. I said on the thread the other day that I think it’s the mental side of the game that Origi lacks and he showed zero game intelligence here. Poor.

Subs:

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Milner (5) - Came on and got straight into the rhythm of the game. That rhythm being giving the ball away or kicking it out of play cheaply. Couldn’t make an impact and low on quality.

Firmino (5) - Tried to make an impact but like the rest, lacking in quality and couldn’t influence the game.

Lallana (4) - The universal cry of “REALLY??” by all Liverpool fans was audible from space when Lallana came on.

Klopp-watch (3) - I didn’t have a problem with Klopp’s first team and we created enough chances that we should have scored at least a couple in the first half but I thought he got his tactics and substitutions all wrong in the second half. I was surprised to see Milner come on. We should have changed to a 4-2-3-1, with Hendo and Fabinho sitting and either brought Shaqiri and Bobby on for Gini and Origi or just bring Bobby on at no10 and swap Origi and Mane. If we were going to persist with the 4-3-3 then Keita should have come on, in the hope he could have made something happen. Sorry Jurgen but you played this one too safe for my liking.

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Summary:

Well, we now find ourselves exactly where we didn’t want to be - in a straight shootout with City. The manner in which we’ve surrendered our advantage over them is what is alarming me the most. Was that so good a United team last week that we were glad to go there and get a point or were they rocked and there for the taking, only for us to never go in for the kill?

Likewise Everton today... is this a good Everton team? No. They are a mid-table team and you wouldn’t believe you were watching the same Liverpool team today that dispatched Watford in such style midweek.

Alas, we now find ourselves without control of our own destiny. Five draws in our last seven games simply isn’t good enough and even more worryingly (Watford aside), the goals have been drying up. I also challenge anyone to truly come up with a decent argument against targeting another CM this summer. The lack of quality from that area of the pitch has been obvious time and again this season. We badly need someone who can dictate the pace of a game and (more importantly) actually pass the ball with some level of consistency. This season is in danger of slipping away from us and it’s time our squad showed the character of Champions.

Here’s hoping City’s increased fixture congestion starts to take its toll as there’s absolutely no predicting which Liverpool will turn up over the coming games. In true Liverpool style however, if we're going to do it, you know we’re going to do it the hard way so let’s hope we'll all be laughing about these bumps in the road, when we lift that trophy in the summer.

Nothing else for it but to walk on, with hope in your heart...
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