Jurgen Klopp unleashed a passionate defense of his players and staff earlier this week and rewarded Liverpool for shrugging off their recent troubles by beating Merseyside rivals Everton 2-0 at Anfield. Buoyed by a boisterous crowd behind them and bragging rights against their relegation-threatened neighbours, the Premier League giants put in an impressive display of relieving pressure on their embattled boss.
Tarkovsky headed in the post from Alex Iwobi’s corner kick in the 35th minute, creating a chance inspired by Daish’s Burnley past. And almost immediately, Liverpool launched a fierce counterattack, with Darwin Nunez sprinting down the left flank before cutting across Mohamed Salah to open the scoring with his first goal of 2023.
The Reds started similarly strong in the second half and it was another quick break that helped them double their advantage, as Trent Alexander-Arnold found Cody Jacobo’s low cross at the far post for the Dutchman to score his first Liverpool goal.
Express Sport looks at the tactical decisions that helped Klopp put Liverpool back on winning ways with a decisive victory over Merseyside rivals at Anfield.
Nunez and Jacobo deliver
Liverpool may have signed Núñez for £85m as the No. 9, but Uruguay has proven to be far more effective when he has room for a run. And Klopp’s recognition of this in the 23-year-old proved to be the difference as Liverpool celebrated their first win of 2023.
Núñez was a threat from the start, taking on Seamus Coleman with a straight run and sporadic dribbling from the outside wide on the left. When Liverpool fired the counter, he showed the Toffees a new pair of heels to get away from them, demonstrating his ability to carry the ball to devastating effect. This proved to be the case when Liverpool opened the scoring, with Núñez running 50 yards with the ball before slotting in Salah’s cross into the net.
Later in the first half, Gakpo’s confidence grew, and not only did he open a £50m deal from PSV for Liverpool, he gave a hint as to why he was brought on as he raced away from Idrissa Gaye and passed to Nunez, who curled a shot. wide. The crowd gave Nunez a standing ovation after his committed display and he got a huge hug from Klopp when he made way for Diogo Jota. But the Portuguese could struggle to get back into the side if the pair can pull together like this in the future.
Was it the extended rest or the adrenaline of playing in the derby that made Alexander-Arnold and Robertson shine? Whatever the case, the full-back duo have easily produced their best performances of the season. Closing in quickly and finding pockets of space to play the ball in was reminiscent of their displays in the title-winning 2019-20 season.
The pair were deployed high up the field playing as wingers at times and provided high pressure early on to knock some nerves in the likes of Dwight McNeil and Alex Iwobi. If anything, McNeil and Iwobi spent more time trying to defend the tracking of their movements down the respective flanks.
Robertson, in particular, found himself out well before the end of the season and was replaced by Kostas Tsimikas, while Alexander-Arnold. But if Klopp is looking for a response, he’s got it at Anfield – and it may not be long until Liverpool’s stars are back to being a dynamic duo again.
Midfield problems have subsided
Jordan Henderson may push 33 with Fabinho soon to be the wrong side at 30, but the pair looked more comfortable than they might have all season to dominate their Everton counterparts. Even with the obvious physical advantage of Gueye, Amadou Onana and Abdoulaye Doucoure, the experienced Liverpool generals ran the show from midfield.
But it was Henderson who set up the difficult yards, applying pressure up front and forcing errors from the Everton midfielders. He was emblematic of the old Henderson who led Liverpool to numerous titles as club captain, even if he had no effect on goals scored. And I hardly felt the absence of Thiago Alcantara for injury.
Much has been said about Liverpool’s plans to sign Jude Bellingham. But the 19-year-old would have done better to improve the performances of Liverpool’s stars – who have admitted they have been less than their best this season. But they hardly missed a pass, looked excited by the occasion and Klopp would be even happier to put their names on the team sheet against Newcastle on Saturday.
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