The 231st Merseyside Derby ended all square as Everton and Liverpool played out a goalless draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp rested several of his key players against the Toffees, keeping one eye on the crucial UEFA Champions League quarter-finals second leg against Manchester City on Tuesday. The first half was a largely drab affair, with chances coming few and far between for both sides.
When either team did conjure up a chance, the respective goalkeepers were at hand to preserve their clean sheets as Jordan Pickford and Loris Karius denied Dominic Solanke, James Milner and Yannick Bolasie. The second half saw more of end-to-end football as Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were brought on to make the difference.
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Everton though, came the closest to clinching the win, spurning two fantastic scoring opportunities from six yards out. In the end, the honours were shared between Liverpool and Everton, denting their aspirations to finish second and seventh, respectively. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Loris Karius: 8/10
The most improved Liverpool player this season, Karius has been an impenetrable wall in several games of late, and Saturday was no less. While he wasn’t called into action much by the Everton attack, he was alert to whatever threat they posed, also making a vital stop to deny Yannick Bolasie in the first half that should be in contention for save of the season.
Nathaniel Clyne: 6.5/10
Finally back into the starting lineup after completing his long recovery, Clyne looked like he hadn’t missed much. The Englishman kept things simple at the back, not giving Bolasie a lot of joy bar the odd half chance. Didn’t advance much down the right flank, but that was understandable as he eases his way back to full match fitness.
Dejan Lovren: 6/10
A solid customer at the back for the most part, Lovren kept the dangerous Cenk Tosun quiet and giving very little space to the Everton attack down the middle. Looked weary as the game went on and the fact that the Toffees got a couple of sniff at goal in the final ten minutes were largely down to him.
Virgil van Dijk: 6/10
A strong leader at the back, van Dijk kept the Liverpool defence organised and disciplined on the day. But, the Dutchman, like Lovren, tailed off significantly in the final ten minutes when the entire visiting backline looked all over the place.
Ragnar Klavan: 6.5/10
Klavan was a surprise selection for many, perhaps at the last minute, having not training for a couple of weeks. But, in an alien position, the Estonian did well against Theo Walcott until the final 15 minutes or so, when he understandably started tiring out. Didn’t show a lot of willingness to advance forward though.
Jordan Henderson: 6.5/10
It was a game of two halves for Henderson, who was deployed in a more advanced role than usual. The Liverpool captain pressed well high up the pitch to ensure the visitors dominated the proceedings regularly. But, he looked a tired figure in the final stages of the game, and understandably so, after the City game.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 8/10
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The deepest of all three Liverpool midfielder, perhaps keeping one eye on the second leg against City, when Henderson will be suspended. Wijnaldum showcased the discipline and acumen needed to flourish in the position to absorb the threat of the Everton attack down the middle.
The Dutchman was a bundle of energy all through the game, recycling the ball with great effect while letting very little past him for the most part. Will be a key figure at Etihad on Tuesday.
James Milner: 8/10
Another player who will be vital for Liverpool to remain in front in Europe, Milner was purposeful with his forward forays, forcing Pickford into a fine save early on. Brought off early in the second half, with one eye on the second leg.
Danny Ings: 6/10
Danny Ings is starting his first Premier League game under Jürgen Klopp and his first since 4th October 2015 vs. Everton at Goodison Park.
2 years, 6 months and 3 days.
Déjà vu. 👻 pic.twitter.com/aFra9XTBY7
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Ings was making his first start in more than two years, and he’d have been glad to be back in the big time after such a long time. But, the lack of minutes were telling in his performance as he looked sluggish at times while also lacking sharpness inside the box. Worked hard, nevertheless, and will now look to make his case for becoming a regular in future games.
Dominic Solanke: 5.5/10
Afforded a rare start on Saturday, Solanke failed to grab his opportunity. The youngster had the best chance of the afternoon for Liverpool, but Pickford produced a brilliant save to deny him, meaning the wait for the elusive first goal continues. Anonymous for large parts, and needs to work extremely hard on his game.
Sadio Mane: 5.5/10
The only one of the feared attacking trio, Mane looked dangerous whenever he got on the ball, but those moments came few and far between on the night. Fluffed his lines in the only real chance that came his way, when he shot high and wide. Perhaps conserved his energy, with the second leg in Europe holding a higher priority.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6.5/10
Oxlade-Chamberlain was by far the best attacker on the pitch, despite his short stint in the game, bringing a burst of energy upon his introduction. Could have sneaked in the winner, but his long-range effort whiskered just wide.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
A surprise substitution, Firmino came on for Mane for the final 15 minutes or so. But, the Brazilian did very little upon being deployed on the left of the front three, a position where he has often struggled for Liverpool.