With a goalless draw in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park, frustration was the order of the day as Liverpool’s inconsistent start to the season took another detour.
After Jurgen Klopp’s side scored that game-winning goal against Newcastle, I suggested that we needed to get through the maelstrom if we were to follow up with another win against Everton, but it didn’t.
Two steps to the side, one back, two forwards and one to the side again, six Premier League games and it looks like we’re not quite down the lane yet, in what must be a marathon in which that oil club that traditionally plays in sky blue started in a sprint.
Blink and the race may be over before you get going; we lived that life many times between 1990 and 2020, so this isn’t exactly uncharted territory.
Liverpool have problems on their plate, you can’t argue with that. They have won just two of their opening six league games and beyond Wolves’ visit on Saturday is a trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, a span of time during which they will also be forced to navigate their opening two games. of the group stage of the Champions League. away against Napoli and at home against Ajax.
It will be a relentless fortnight before the first international break of the season.
Football statistics and numbers can, of course, be used to prove any point. On the one hand, before derby day, Liverpool had conceded the first goal in eight of their previous nine Premier League outings, but on the other hand, they have only lost once in the league for the whole of 2022 so far, with us now sitting in the month of September.
On the surface, it’s about agendas and pitting optimistic dispositions against doom-mongers in a perpetual battle for moral high ground. The lines have been drawn and you are being implored to choose a side, whether you like it or not, as all around you people you perceive to be perfectly reasonable are losing their minds over whether the club is now in a state of ‘transition’. ‘ Or not.
In many respects it was a typical derby. Liverpool started both halves of the game quite brilliantly before Everton carved out a role for themselves. Both teams had their chances, both goalkeepers were called into meaningful action, both teams hit the goalposts, Liverpool on multiple occasions, while Everton had a goal disallowed.
There would be a flurry of red punches followed by a couple of blue counter punches. As a soccer game, it was pretty compelling.
It was Everton’s best performance of the season so far, however they were stuck in concerted periods of a game where we didn’t find our highest gears. They will not raise their performance to such levels next weekend when they leave for Arsenal, where their run without a league win since the start of the new campaign will be extended to seven, while telling the world that they are much better. that the ephemeral era of Rafa Benítez and how much Frank Lampard ‘takes’ them, when they begin to prepare the visit of David Moyes, their old messiah without trophies of mediocrity.
So the pantomime continued and Liverpool disintegrated as the return of Darwin Núñez did not have the desired and positive late effect on his start at Anfield. He occasionally found some good position but didn’t make the most of it, planting a pair of headers high and wide, before forcing Jordan Pickford to finish off an excellent effort at the crossbar.
People talk in terms of how raw Nunez is and that there is potential to work with. There is some truth to this, but at the age of 23, there should be more than just raw potential. At times he seemed hesitant, as if he was trying too hard to keep his volatility a secret. We never saw the same level of passion from him on the Goodison pitch as we did midweek on the touchline at Anfield, when he was celebrating Fabio Carvalho’s game-winning goal.
Núñez was not alone in his tribulations, as Mohamed Salah and Luis Díaz also seemed to operate as solo artists and not as part of a larger collective. Work needs to be done to merge them as a symbiotic trio. We initially missed out on input from the newly bubbly Bobby Firmino, who took over the main duties of stretching Pickford after he arrived in the game.
The lack of cohesion in the forward three was exacerbated by the wrong composition in midfield. Carvalho deserved a first start but this was not the place for it to happen while Harvey Elliott is an essential figure at the moment however the weight of the world fell on Fabinho’s shoulders at a time when he is still trying to play. form.
We couldn’t rotate the ball enough in midfield and there seemed to be little in the way of a functional link between them and the forward three. It would have been a bold move, but maybe throwing Arthur into the starting lineup might have produced something different.
Much speculation has been raised about Arthur’s loan arrival, the club showing he is still capable of deft sleight of hand. While the chorus was long and loud for the midfield reinforcements and Klopp had publicly stated that he might have been wrong to suggest all was well in that department, no one was seriously expecting this particular arrival. When it came, the ITKs who backed out insisted it was a deal that came about without an option to make the move permanent, only for that to be wrong too.
Time will tell, but this could prove to be a smart move on Liverpool’s part, though if it isn’t, they won’t miss a thing. If Arthur hangs around the fringes without making a significant impact, then he returns to his parent club next summer, while if he proves his worth, he signs full-time and doesn’t need to pay the transfer fee until 2024.
There is a hint of DFS sales on the transfer. Buy now, pay later. Arthur is widely seen as a pawn in Liverpool’s long-running courtship of Jude Bellingham, but he’s also a player with a definite point to prove to his last two employers and with a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad precariously. balanced. Either way, we need a big presence to assert ourselves, as the loss of Jordan Henderson could hurt more than many would like to acknowledge.
Unfortunately, Liverpool have little time to reflect on their myriad problems as Napoli looms on the horizon, yet another Champions League night in which the traveling Reds will need to be mindful of their potentially dangerous surroundings.
If you have a ticket, stay safe.