Everton 2-2 Liverpool: Winners and losers as abysmal officiating ruins Merseyside derby

Defensive frailties, horror tackles and appalling VAR decisions took the shine away from the game as the Reds were robbed of three points. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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The 237th Merseyside derby was a scintillating game of football. It deserves recognition for the entertainment it brought to every fan who tuned in to watch the lunchtime kick off.

Unfortunately, as exciting as the game was, it will be overshadowed and remembered for all the wrong reasons, as several incompetent refereeing decisions against the Reds cost them during the 90 minutes. 

Klopp’s side dominated large periods of the game, but were left to rue several missed chances, as sloppy defending and a worrying injury to Virgil van Dijk, came back to bite them and hand Ancelotti’s side an undeserved point. 


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Many fans should feel positive about the general performance. Several players impressed during the duration. However, with injuries now to Alisson, van Dijk and potentially to Thiago, most fans will feel sick and slightly concerned at the turn the season has taken. 

Jürgen Klopp made four changes from the debacle at Villa Park. Matip, Thiago, Henderson and Mané started in the place of Gomez, Wijnaldum, Jota and the injured Keïta (fitness issue).

Here are the winners and losers from the game.

Winners

Jordan Henderson

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Captain Fantastic. This was a trademark performance from the Englishman who was back to his very best. After missing a couple of games with injury, he returned in emphatic fashion. He dominated the game from the first minute to the last. He won every tackle, bullying Allan, Doucouré and Gomes all afternoon, with Ancelotti struggling to draft a game plan to nullify the skipper’s influence. 

The afternoon could have, and should have, ended perfectly for the 30-year-old who was denied a last-minute winner. After nestling a cutback from Sadio Mané into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations from the men in red, it was inexplicably ruled out for offside by VAR official, David Coote. The decision can only be described as disgusting. 

The performance, in particular the intensity, from Henderson showed what Klopp’s side lack without him in the starting 11. It is now more important than ever with the Reds suffering so many injuries, that the former Sunderland man stays fit for the testing period of fixtures coming up.

Thiago Alcântara

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The Spanish magician waltzed around the pitch with a cup of tea in his hand for the entire game. It was that easy for him. Before the game, a few people questioned whether he could make it in the Premier League, with games such as the Merseyside derby potential obstacles, and whether he truly was one of the best players on the planet. Everything about this display was delightful and backed up his world class status. 

At no point did he look rushed, cracking passes left, right and centre with ease. Aesthetically he is so pleasing on the eye. He must be a joy to play with. He created opportunities for people in front of him at will. His manipulation of the opposition backline is something to admire, as he always had Everton’s defence on the back foot. 

This manipulation was in full show for his no look pass to Mané for Henderson’s disallowed goal. His range of vision is extraordinary, picking out the Senegal international perfectly without looking at him for even a moment. He is the missing piece that Liverpool have lacked since Coutinho left for Barcelona. 

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The only downside to his performance was the horrendous tackle he received off Richarlison. The Brazilian was rightly sent off, but the damage left on the Spanish international could have massive ramifications for the Reds moving forwards. Hopefully it is not as bad as first feared and he will be back healthy and firing quickly.

Losers

Premier League

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It was a head in hands moment for the league as the officials made a mockery of them all afternoon. It will be another evening of explanations from them to the footballing community as VAR failed once again, with questions of whether it should be retained returning to the journalist’s news bulletins.  

In such a landmark fixture, and with the vast majority of the footballing fans’ eyes on the game, it was paramount that everything went swimmingly. Showing how entertaining the league can be was more important than ever, with the league now asking for £14.95 for select fixtures. Unfortunately, it descended into a farce after ten minutes and never recovered. 

VAR and the referees on duty will get analysed thoroughly for the woeful showing at Goodison Park. This should not be happening in the best league in the world with all the technology available. It is a shocking trend that after three seasons of mistakes it cannot continue. A VAR revamp is in order or bin it all together.


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