Of all the embarrassing moments in Jurgen Klopp’s two post-derby hissy fits, one comment in particular stood out. Having asked the gathered media to raise hands to indicate whether they believed Dejan Lovren had fouled Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and after upgrading “three” to “oh, all”, and sarcastically stating “Wow, then I’m really wrong, obviously”, Klopp singled out a member of Everton’s media team.


“The guy in the Everton jacket is really happy about that. That’s cool. Are you happy about your game?” The presumably amused journalist responded in the affirmative suggesting it was “a good point”. Maybe he ought to have gone further and shot back: ‘Are you?’ for Klopp seemed to be blissfully unaware that this was a very poor performance from Liverpool.

Everton may have arrived at Anfield on the back of three straight clean sheets, but prior to that, the Blues had conceded at least two in nine consecutive matches, and more than two in five of them. First-choice full-backs, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines were missing which meant 20-year-old Jonjoe Kenny made his ninth Premier League start alongside 21-year-old Mason Holgate, and unconvincing right-back Cuco Martina was forced awkwardly to the left of ageing, struggling Ashley Williams.

Only Stoke (35) and West Ham (32) have conceded more than Everton (29) in the league this season, and this was a depleted version of that under-performing defence. Liverpool, on the other hand, had scored 12 in their last two games, and 40 in their last 11 – only failing to score three or more during that run when confronted with Tottenham and Chelsea, last year’s best and third best defence respectively.

And yet, bafflingly, this all added up to just one more shot on target, three in total. Three. Aside from Mohamed Salah’s exceptional curled opener just before half-time, all Jordan Pickford had to deal with was a mishit low cross from Sadio Mane, and a 25-yard free-kick from Philippe Coutinho that didn’t so much sting his fingers, but get a bit of feeling back into them on an otherwise frosty afternoon at Anfield. So what was the explanation? Did Liverpool attack poorly or did Everton defend well?

79% of possession – a Premier League record since Opta began recording data in 2003/04 – suggests the former. Though not quite as extreme, these sort of jarring factors were commonplace for Roberto Martinez’s Everton: total dominance of the ball, very few good chances, poor finishing, costly individual errors. The same could be said of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, as Reds supporters well know, but the similarity with Klopp’s style appeared to be forgotten in the indignant aftermath of Sunday’s draw.


Misdirected shots

The home side plundered 20 efforts off target with Mane and Salah particularly culpable after missing gilt-edged opportunities either side of half-time. 12 of those misdirected shots were taken from outside the box which again invites the question… is this bad attacking or good defending? If Everton deserve no credit for their resistance, as Klopp’s sneer seemed to imply, surely then, Liverpool’s under-performed. Shots are not missed in a vacuum; if the defender is not to be credited, the attacker must surely be blamed.

In many ways, this is the crux of Liverpool’s recent struggles, and indeed Klopp’s own: style fascism, to borrow a phrase from Tony Evans. In today’s Premier League, attacking play is glorified, defending almost pitied. “It’s not difficult to coach to just get 10 players right on your 18-yard box”, said Rodgers in the wake of Chelsea ruining Liverpool’s title hopes in 2013/14. Such a trend saw Martinez breeze into Goodison into loving arms while Sam Allardyce encountered alienating resistance. Indeed, Marco Silva was defiantly pursued with Sean Dyche barely an afterthought.


Liverpool are of course on the right side of this. Everton, under the new influence of Allardyce’s uninspiring pragmatism, are not. Good, in Sunday’s context, was dominating the ball for 95 minutes but shooting waywardly; bad was defending doggedly throughout and venturing forward minimally. In truth, Liverpool neither attacked nor defended well on Sunday; Everton at least performed one of their duties credibly.

Like with Martinez, and Rodgers, Klopp appeared genuinely unaware of his own role in his side’s failure. The cautious dropping of seven-goals-in-two-games duo Coutinho and Roberto Firmino seemed unnecessary, the preference for no-goals-all-season Dominic Solanke seemed risky. The decision to select Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can perhaps unwise, and so too removing Salah, Liverpool’s best player who was up against Martina, one of Everton’s worst.

Then of course there are the Reds’ two recurring bug-bears: the regular failure to kill games off, and the inability to consistently defend. This ultimately cost Rodgers at Anfield and it consistently undermines Klopp. On Match of the Day, Danny Murphy suggested “Liverpool fans aren’t stupid”. Perhaps then, if Klopp were to direct his “Are you happy about your game?” sneer in their direction, he’d get an answer more displeasing than the Everton journalist’s.
By Chris Smith
Follow me on Twitter @cdsmith789

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  • andy

    it doesn’t change the fact that it was dive and Everton got very very lucky

    • cdsmith789

      It wasn’t a dive, though Everton got very lucky. It was a reckless, stupid and unnecessary bit of defending from Lovren. A clear penalty. If Wiliams does that on Mane on Salah, don’t kid yourself you’d think that was a dive.

  • andy

    This time last season, we had a number of injuries around Christmas including Coutinho. Klopp was criticised by the Press for playing players in too many games and the high-press game bringing on injuries. This year, he rotates and gets slated by the same Press.

    • cdsmith789

      There are two points here. Firstly, the way Klopp has rotated his squad this year, as a clear reaction to the festive fixtures, is to be commended. He complained last year, but obviously learnt. However, you do not simply praise rotation for the sake of keeping players fresh. It has to be keeping players fresh paired with getting results.

      Liverpool’s form has been good. Klopp must be encouraged by how the squad has adapted, and optimistic for the end of the season. But he absolutely got his selection wrong here, and it cost Liverpool two points. He has no divine right to avoid criticism for that.

  • BadlosersIhate

    Delusional Kloppites! Always the victim