Everton made a tough week much tougher with a weak, vulnerable Merseyside derby performance as they failed to win at Anfield for 18th straight year. Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho tore apart a slow, flimsy back three which saw Matthew Pennington repeatedly exposed, both Liverpool players scoring in a 3-1 win. Ronald Koeman’s post-match reaction completed a poor afternoon for him.

Coutinho celebrates after giving Liverpool a 2-1 lead against Everton, the Reds eventually winning 3-1The Blues were up against it both in terms of Morgan Schneiderlin, Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori’s injury absences and in terms of the squad’s limitations. Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge were missing for Liverpool, but Mane, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino made a potent front three. Koeman’s plan to deny Liverpool space in behind worked for the most part at the expense of all the space in front.

First Mane then Coutinho picked up the ball in midfield before exploiting a multiple defensive errors. Everton’s initial response was hesitant, their eventual challenges flimsy. They took up poor positions and made bad decisions from there. They lacked an awareness of their opponents’ habits. Mane loves to dribble at pace, Coutinho likes to cut inside and bend it into the corner. Both did as they pleased as Joel Robes, apparently watching the action on a lagging stream, failed to react in time.

So too Koeman who was perhaps deceived by Pennington’s equaliser from a corner – a bitterly ironic effort that involved all of Everton’s back three combining nicely. A change was required and it was blindingly obvious. The back three lacked pace, the attack lacked width. Mason Holgate could be moved back, and Jonjoe Kenny introduced. Koeman had other ideas.

He replaced Pennington and Tom Davies with Enner Valencia and Gareth Barry permitting a shift to 4-4-2. This was fine and allowed Everton to become a threat in the game but it arrived seven minutes after Liverpool had made it 3-1. Presumably as an apology for Funes Mori’s stamp on Divock Origi during last year’s Anfield derby, Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka stood as far away from each other as possible. A neat ball from Coutinho opened it up for Origi, Robles completing the apology by… erm…. running forward in the wrong direction and guessing wrong.

Overrun

Undoubtedly, the game was lost in the space between Everton’s three centre-backs sitting deep out of position and the centre-midfield failing to successfully engage. However, the front three of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Dominic Calvert-Lewin didn’t help. Lukaku barely offered an outlet all game while Barkley and Calvert-Lewin’s attacking positions left Everton exposed in the centre. Barkley in particular was a hindrance.

BarkleyBarkely drew attention to himself this week after being overlooked for England. He had a point but all eyes were going to be on him anyway after he under-performed in the Goodison clash and was lucky to stay on the pitch. At Anfield, he repeated that display entirely. An early clip on Emre Can left Barkley fortunate to escape a yellow, a studs-up challenge on Lovren left him fortunate to escape a red. He improved after the break but in the most insignificant fashion.

In a different way, Lukaku let the occasion get to him, the occasion being another clash against a top six side. Once again faced with a half-decent centre-back, he totally crumbled. Not just losing a personal battle: anonymity. Not once did he seek to isolate Lucas though in truth he had little chance as Barkley hung on to the ball relentlessly and Everton crossed with little accuracy. Everton’s two biggest stars were brought down a peg.

So too the whole club after recent stadium-based optimism, and the team after a good start to 2017. This was a defeat that confirmed Everton’s inferiority, not just to Liverpool but also to the other teams above them. Chelsea away, Liverpool at home, Tottenham away, and Liverpool here – four changes of system from Koeman, four miscalculations, four crushing defeats. While Everton are unbeaten in four games against the rest of the top six, Man Utd pose a serious threat to that record on Tuesday.

Everton's Ronald Koeman looks dejected alongside Jurgen Klopp who won his third straight Merseyside derby for LiverpoolEverton missed several key players meaning they had no choice but to play some youngsters who were unsuitable for their roles, but this was simply not good enough from Koeman. We’ve been here before, the recent Tottenham game being the previous example. This season, Everton look competent against the bottom 13 and completely vulnerable against the top six. Worse still, he does not appear to be learning.

Evertonians need to patient. Though these problems could have been better addressed by now, they will be in the summer. However, that should not excuse the extent to which Koeman has fallen short in big games this year.
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Click here to read ‘O’Neill reveals the flaws in his approach with latest response to Koeman’
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By Chris Smith
Follow me on Twitter @cdsmith789

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  • disgustedred

    Koeman should have gone to Specsavers, because sure as hell he didn’t see the same game as the rest of the world. Williams and Barkley shouldn’t have been on the pitch at the end. The perennial dirty team, never changed and never will, an alehouse team at best.

    • cdsmith789

      Williams was a fair but rough challenge. Dangerous but within the bounds of the law. Agree on Barkley though, a rare dirty game from him. That makes a total of two now. Funny to read a Liverpool fan whining about this sort of thing, I must tell you. I presume you didn’t rate Gerrard, Kuyt, Carragher, Lucas etc. You must have absolutely despised Souness!

      • disgustedred

        You need a trip to an optician too Mr bluenose

        • cdsmith789

          Thanks for the optic concern but I’ve checked this with the Reds I know who at least attempt to avoid self-delusion – we appear to be seeing eye to eye on this one. If you think Barkley is worse than Gerrard, Carragher, Kuyt, Lucas and obviously Souness, then that opinion just deserves ridicule. To be clear, I’m happy to dish that out as and when.

          As for now, get yourself down to Specsavers, see if they have any equipment for removing rose-tinted glasses.

          • disgustedred

            Just fuck off

          • cdsmith789

            As easy as that. I’ve totally had you off there. Off you pop, you angry, little moron.

          • disgustedred

            Piss off you bluenose shitbag I have no interest in what illiterate wankers have to say.

          • Chris Smith

            You have no interest in what I say but you keep coming back to my blog commenting on it, engaging me with your Year 7-level aggro, desperate to have your tediously unoriginal points acknowledged? Oh but you do care, Bill, don’t you? That’s why you can’t let it go. Which is great for me. The longer this conversation goes on, the better SEO score I have, the better my blog positions on Google, the better it does overall. So first and foremost, thank you for devoting your time to improving the site. Cheers!

            But Bill, I won’t lie, I’m concerned. I’ve had to hold back on a couple of insults here because you’ve painted yourself as a Liverpool fan so lonely and uninspired he has nothing to do but write children’s insults on an Everton blog. Is it a cry for a help? Are you a cry for help? I’m getting a very cry for help vibe from you, William. It seems like a properly functioning, well-adjusted, normal person would have found something better to do by now.

            Like I said though man, and you’d do well to remember this, I can and will do this for as long as you want to. So, if you honestly can’t think of anything better to do, keep writing back. Me and my site will be very appreciative. But promise me one thing If you come back, will get someone to help you with the insults? At least give me a laugh if I have to trawl through your cries for attention.

            ps 0151 708 8888 This is the Samaritan’s Liverpool hotline. Don’t be embarrassed, Bill. They’re there to help. You’ll be back on your feet before too long. And once again, thanks for the comments!

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