Liverpool 1 vs 1 Everton This was the game that Steven Gerrard comprehensively answered his critics, or so the narrative goes. As I pointed out on Twitter, I hadn't heard too many people criticizing Gerrard in relation to his free kick execution. Sometimes the narrative stinks. Anyway, on to the shape of the game, and our thoughts appear below the gif........ (Click on gif to open in larger window)
- Once again, Moreno took up some super attacking positions. For the first 30 minutes he is shown as being higher up the pitch on this PPT than Lallana
- Liverpool very much favoured attacking the left wing, pretty much to the exclusion of the right side. Sterling, Moreno, Lallana and even Balotelli all drifted over to the left side. Conversel, only Markovic (occasionally) and Manquillo offered attacking options down the right
- Naismith kept himself very high and central. Presumably this was Everton's version of the now-standard "stick someone on top of Gerrard" tactic. Did this Naismith position push Lukaku into a wider right spot? Lukaku certainly favours the right channel, but is his best position really as wide as this?
Some comments from Elston Gunn, a Liverpool fan:
- Gerrard and Henderson played as a clear duo in midfield and remained close to each other for most of the game, without an obvious sitter/runner distinction between them.
- As Everton have done more and more in big games, Naismith played in a clear "false 9" role with Lukaku on the right.
- Everton looked to attack down the wings, presumably hoping to exploit the aggressiveness of Liverpool's fullbacks and Lukaku's height advantage over Moreno. Lukaku and Mirallas/McGeady are often the most advanced and most involved Everton attackers.
- McGeady seemed to stick tighter to the left-hand side than Mirallas, who had shown fluidity in his 30 minutes on the pitch.
- Manquillo was much more reserved than Moreno for the first half hour, perhaps concerned about Mirallas' threat in behind, but (after Gerrard could be seen telling him to get forward) he became more ambitious as the game went on.
- Baines was able to get forward and get on the ball early on but then was pinned back, especially after Markovic (whose dot is almost always miniscule, struggling to get involved) was removed
- Sterling was consistently Liverpool's most involved attacker, predominantly playing to the left today, swapping spots with Lallana from the setup against Middlesbrough. This was partially related to the proverbial game of chicken happening down the Liverpool left/Everton right. Lukaku was staying advanced, and Moreno continued to push forward. Particularly toward the end of the first half and early in the second, you can see both teams looking to attack down the same side. To some degree, Liverpool solved this problem by treating Lukaku as a striker rather than a wide forward, with Lovren often staying close to him.
- Coutinho was able to get on the ball and try to dictate the play when he came on.
- The American commentators talked about Browning as a defensive sub to protect against Sterling, but he was more likely brought on to attack more aggressively down the right. Liverpool were of course sitting deeper at this point, but he was more advanced and more involved than Hibbert had been down that side.