Merseyside Derby Analysis

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“Jurgen Klopp isn’t just an enigmatic manager, he has a great footballing sense” – Here’s how his subs made a difference in the derby yesterday

Liverpool won the Merseyside in bizarre circumstances, with Divock Origi of all people scoring the winner in the 96th minute to seal the deal for the Reds in a turn of events you probably will never witness it again.

It started with a Trent-Alexandar Arnold free-kick, a header out from an Everton defender, Virgil van Dijk fluffing his volley, and then began the Jordan Pickford show. The “England’s number one” made a total hash of a ball that was meant to be parried over the bar.

Instead, the Toffee stopper tried to keep it in play, and Origi profited from that to score in an empty net. (while doing the Daniel Sturridge dance move) The Belgian was in so much shock that he picked the ball, probably with an intention to restart the game as quickly as he can. He wanted to score another one it seems!

Jurgen Klopp then went mad on the touchline, or we should say on the pitch when the German ran faster than Usain Bolt and hugged Alisson Becker to celebrate the unlikeliest goal.

However,  his substitutions in the second half was a catalyst for stopping the Evertonian threat and eventually getting the three points. Here’s how:

Analysis

Both teams had a 4-2-3-1 system set up on the pitch. Liverpool had a midfield duo of Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum, with Roberto Firmino as a number 10. Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri flanked number nine Mohamed Salah. As the first half went on, it became easy for Everton to sit deep and hit on the counter.

Even though the Reds create enough in the first half to take the lead, the Blues were always in the shout from the break. Andre Gomes missed a sitter, while Theo Walcott had a heavy touch or he might have also scored.

Hence, despite the home side edging the game in terms of the chances created, there was always a threat of the Toffees pinching it. This was partly due to the fact that Fabinho and Wijnaldum were inconsistent as a pair. Individually, both played well, especially the former, but they weren’t able to protect their defenders on the counter.

There was a moment in the second half after the hour mark when the away team were comfortable not pressing higher up and look to play on the break whenever feasible. At that instance, Klopp got his work done by bringing Naby Keita on in place of Shaqiri. Liverpool reverted back to 4-3-3 and started dominating the midfield numerically, ultimately stopping any danger on the break.

For that reason, in the last 20 minutes, we hardly saw Marco Silva’s men marauding forward with spaces on either side. Therefore, this was a masterstroke from the Reds’ gaffer. It changed the game in the slightest manner, but it is huge for the context.

The other two changes made by the German were great too. Bringing Daniel Sturridge on for Mohamed Salah was a fantastic decision, as the Egyptian was well marshalled by two physically strong centre-backs Mina and Michael Keane.

Sturridge’s quick feet were a threat on a couple of occasions, only if he could have shot a bit earlier.

Up till here, it is all normal, however, when Divock Origi was coming on with six minutes to play, you just wonder the Reds would fall short tonight.

 

But in all fairness to the Belgian, he was very sharp from the get-go. He made a run down the side of Mina and used his pace to go past the defender and deliver a good low cutback for Mane. It had to be defended by Seamus Coleman in the end.

The 23-year-old then missed an absolute sitter when all he had to do was knock the ball in an empty net. Well, he did just exactly that few minutes later in dying embers and became the Liverpool hero of a lifetime.

In a sense, it is redemption for Origi whose Anfield career was predominantly halted significantly by that challenge from Ramiro Funes Mori (c***) during the derby game in 2016.

Hence, in short, credit goes to the manager to change the system and then be brave enough to replace two of your best players with untested assets. It worked wonders in the end and Klopp needs to get a “hats off!!!”

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