Liverpool had Virgil van Dijk to thank on a frustrating evening as they were held to a goalless draw by Everton in the 284th Merseyside derby on Sunday.
Much like the reverse fixture back in December, the latest edition of the Merseyside derby was one that lacked cutting edge from both sides, with chances coming few and far between. Mohamed Salah had the biggest chances of the first half coming his way, but was quite easily denied by Jordan Pickford.
On the other end, the Everton forwards did not see many opportunities coming their way, with Virgil van Dijk keeping a check on the opposition’s output. The first half thus, ended just as the game had started, with neither side managing to find the back of the net.
Things barely improved in the second half, with profligacy, a lack of cutting edge and Jurgen Klopp’s tactical decisions leaving Liverpool fans exasperated, as the side failed to break the deadlock. At the back, van Dijk continued to hold the fort for the hosts as Everton too, could not manage to net the elusive goal.
In the end, the game ended goalless, with both sides sharing the spoils as Liverpool spurned the chance to return to the summit of the Premier League – they are now a point behind champions Manchester City. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Klopp’s men
Alisson Becker: 7/10
A largely quiet evening for the Liverpool no. 1, who only had three saves to make on Sunday. Showed alertness to keep out whatever little threat he faced while his distribution was typically reliable, bar a couple of instances when he lost the ball in dangerous areas. Up to 17 clean sheets for the season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Not as influential as he was in the midweek clash against Watford. But, Alexander-Arnold still posed a big threat with his runs down the right flank, with his deliveries from corners and crosses were also quite dangerous. At the back, he was diligent in his duties, with Bernard having a day to forget.
Joel Matip: 8/10
Matip has stepped up well this season in the absence of Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, and he produced another accomplished performance on Sunday. While van Dijk was doing most of the clean up job, the Cameroonian was at hand to chip in with blocks and clearances of his own, when required. One mazy run was the best attacking moment for Liverpool in the second half.
Virgil van Dijk: 10/10
Virgil van Dijk made more clearances vs. Everton (13) than any other Liverpool player has managed in a Premier League game so far this season; his joint-personal-best tally for the club.
An absolute magnet for the ball. 🧲 pic.twitter.com/5OzQHLaraX
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 3, 2019
What a superstar. So typical of van Dijk to step up on the biggest of occasions, which is exactly what he did. In fact, absolutely nothing went past the Dutchman on the day, showing tremendous prowess in the air and expertise on the ground.
The most mind boggling of numbers from van Dijk’s performance was the fact that he made a staggering 13 clearances, a number that is evidence enough as to why Everton never quite got close to scoring a goal. The best defender in the Premier League right now, maybe the best in the world too.
Andrew Robertson: 6/10
Robertson has surprisingly been somewhat hit and miss lately, and the Scot followed suit on Sunday as well. While his early crosses presented a threat, the deliveries never quite found their target. At the back, he was caught out of position at times, with van Dijk having to clean up for him. But, when he was at hand to defend, Theo Walcott could not quite get the better of him.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
Back into the side in place of James Milner, Henderson was poor to begin with, playing a few sloppy passes. But, after the initial hiccups, the Liverpool captain was the best midfielder on show, playing some scintillating first-time passes, with one lobbed pass for Mohamed Salah being delightful. Faded towards the end, however.
A weird game for Fabinho, who made a number of uncharacteristic errors on the ball – one, in particular, put the defence in a spot of bother in the second half. Defensively, the Brazilian was far from his best too, with Gylfi Sigurdsson having a field day pulling the strings for his side. A rare blip, judging by his recent performances.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5/10
Usually Mr. Reliable for Liverpool, Wijnaldum did not have the best of times on Sunday. In fact, the Dutchman touched the ball a mere 27 times before being withdrawn, which is spectacularly low for a player who likes to be involved as much as him. Not his day.
Mohamed Salah: 4/10
The Liverpool talisman has not quite been at his best for a number of weeks now, and his poor form was horribly exposed on Sunday. While the Egyptian made a number of dangerous runs into the box, his finishing left a lot to be desired, and more.
For the first time in his Liverpool career, Salah has now failed to score in three consecutive games and he is still looking for his 50th goal in Liverpool colours.
Sadio Mane: 5/10
Liverpool’s in-form player coming into the derby, Mane was played in the central role where he has been wreaking havoc. But, on Sunday, the Senegalese was anonymous, with involvement coming few and far between – he played a mere 17 passes, with just 29 touches on the ball. Another who failed to step up when the Reds needed it so dearly.
Divock Origi: 5/10
With Roberto Firmino still not fully fit, Origi was handed another start. But, Belgian was as bad as Mane and Salah, if not worse. Showed no ability to link-up with Robertson, he had just 30 touches and completed a paltry 10 passes – nothing short of abysmal numbers. The only upside to his performance was that he worked supremely hard off the ball, but that is a small positive.
James Milner: 4/10
On for the underperforming Wijnaldum, Milner was hardly an upgrade. Sloppy on the ball, the veteran Englishman seemed to be lacking sharpness, reacting to one-touch passes poorly. A passenger, really for half an hour.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
Introduced alongside Milner, it was evident as to why Firmino did not start as he looked off pace. While he typically grafted along, the Brazilian could not produce a moment of brilliance to make the difference.
Adam Lallana: N/A
On with six minutes left, it was quite surprising that Klopp chose to bring Lallana on instead of more forward thinking players such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge when Liverpool were so desperately in need of a goal.