Roundtable - Everton 0 Liverpool 1
For matches like this only google-translate will do. Pick a foreign newspaper - any country will do - look up the match report and put it through the mincing-machine of google translate. I picked Marca from Spain and, sounding like a drunken Kopite, this is what the esteemed organ had to say about the 227th Derby.
"The forest of legs and testosterone that watered Liverpool and Everton prevented the game from flowing. A sea of inaccuracies, a flood of failures, the jostling and the quarrels were brushed and sprouted. Challenge, brawl and a battle without rest. Klopp is a nightmare for Everton. Twice he has crossed with the Toffees and twice he has triumphed. When the emotions are paladean, the German technician is grown. Liverpool are still dreaming"
I have no idea what "paladean" means, and don't want to know, but in my opinion that captures the essence of what happened on Monday might better than anything you could write in conventional English. Perhaps only a Jamie Carragher scream comes close.
What a game. What a night. I'm savouring the result more than any other this season, not just because of Sadio Mane's exhilarating strike at the death but because Everton came at us with hammer and tongs for the first 45 and we were strong enough to withstand them and then, in the second 45, calmly disarm them of their ironmongery and treat them to a game of football. Not one of our lads wilted and it was a genuine team effort that saw us prevail. That was a big test for Jurgen Klopp's boys and they passed it with honours.
The Goodison sod was cut more for a game of rugby union that football, the grass in places long enough to hide Aaron Lennon. It was clear that Koeman - who claims to be Dutch - wanted the ball permanently belted in the air, not fizzing across the turf, and thought that Liverpool would be handicapped by having to play on lush pasture rather than the close-cropped carpets that we're used to seeing in the Premier League these days. Rumour has it that on the morning of the game the Everton ground staff were told to look into the legality of digging a few ditches and erecting a couple of dry stone walls to make the playing area even more agricultural. In the end they put a ring through Barkley's nose and told him to get on with it.
We were good. Anyone complaining that the boys didn't put on a football show just hasn't been watching the Derby over the last 30 years. This was never going to a beauty contest. What was at stake were not our good looks, but our character. Full marks then to Ragnar Klavan who started the game, the experts told us, as a likely achilles heel and ended it with Romelu Lukaku jostling with the loose change in his pocket. A mighty performance from our Estonian. There were no last-ditch tackles, there was no shirt-pulling and there was no grappling and flailing and inviting the ref to get a card out, or worse. There was just a defender in supreme control of the situation. He simply guided Lukaku out of the danger areas, almost cooing in his ear so closely did he mark his man. "Don't go that way Romelu, that's the penalty area and it's always a bit manic there, come this way with me where nothing happens." And in the first half too, when the Reds struggled to keep the ball and show for it, and too often took the Everton option and hit long, it was Klavan who brought some fluency and rhythm to Liverpool's play. His first touch is always good, his body shape highlighting the fact that he's already thinking about his second. And he has that lovely ability to accelerate into the second touch which immediately starts to tease open little spaces to move into and little lanes in which to deliver passes.
But this is obvious. He's played in the Bundesliga. And German centre backs know about these things. Klopp's not stupid.
In the second half when Koeman's loyal and willing farm animals began to tire we began, at last, to assert ourselves. There was a purple 20 minutes from Lallana where he seemed to be playing with the benefit of three feet, not two (Did I really see, at one point, 3 Cruyff turns in 3 seconds?) There's a touch of Johnny Barnes about the way he appears to offer an opponent the ball only to whisk it away at the last moment. And just as in the game against Boro, Lallana dropped very deep at times to get Liverpool into passing mode. When his days as a marauding midfielder are over there's clearly going to be an opportunity for this boy to finish his career, like Stevie, in a deeper midfield role. He knows so much.
Elsewhere in midfield Gini Wijnaldum was excellent too. The more I see of him, the more I like. There are no histrionics, and no showboating, but his movement and passing are crisp and inventive and his tackling is hard and efficient. Plus he seems to be tireless. Firmino struggled valiantly without ever reaching the heights he's capable of, but I wouldn't underestimate his contribution. The lad's a bloody handful even when he appears to be driving into cul-de-sacs and the determination with which he fought to retrieve the ball epitomised the team's spirit on the night. Hendo, like Lovren, shrank a bit in the first half but clearly absorbed Klopp's message over the half-time cup of tea, and emerged to play one of his best 45s in the second. His confrontation with Barkley might have brought back memories of McMahon v Reid but such was the savagery of the Everton man's late tackle ( a three-match ban pending surely) that it more accurately evoked the horrendous clash of Beglin v Stevens. Hendo was lucky. That leg could easily have been shattered. And then he showed his class, first by staring down the offender after he'd booted the ball away to waste time (thanks for that Ross) and then in his post-match interview where he played at being ambassador to the United Nations.
The end was crazy; one of the best ends to the Derby there's ever been. Sturridge came on and with his first four touches failed to control the ball. His fifth touch was a mishit too, but the pace with which he glided away from the Everton defence to get the shot in was a hopeful sign. When the bobbled effort hit the post Sadio was in Bronze position. A second later he was in Gold. Then the smoke poured out of the Bullens and the entire Liverpool team celebrated in what looked like a war zone.
It had been. And the traditional enemy was vanquished again.
On to Stoke.