Scintillating Salah inspires Liverpool and five talking points as the Reds demolish rivals Everton in derby win
In this article, we will take a look at some of the key takeaways from the 239th installment of the Merseyside Derby between bitter rivals Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening after the Reds thumped the Toffees for four goals in a resounding 4-1 win.
Everton remain too reliant on Calvert-Lewin
Despite the existence of Brazilian international Richarlison and the overachieving duo of summer signings Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray, Everton remains heavily reliant on England international Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The former Sheffield United striker and academy graduate has quickly become the key man at Goodison Park after hitting 13 and 16 goals respectively in his last two Premier League seasons, and he started equally if not more brightly this campaign hitting three goals in his first three appearances before a fractured toe railroaded his season.
With DCL in the XI, Everton posted a 2-1-0 record. Since his absence? The Toffees are 2-2-6, including having been shut out in their last three Premier League fixtures.
6 – Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (8) and Christian Benteke (7) have scored more headed goals in the competition than Tomas Soucek (6). Noggin. pic.twitter.com/udcpv7pwJb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2021
No other Everton player comes close to being the same goal threat as the England man, with the nearest player to his 3.7 shots/game being the aforementioned Gray with 1.9. And the same can be said for his aerial presence, too, with DCL’s 4.3 aerials won/match well ahead of center-back Michael Keane’s 3.2. At the time of writing, Everton and Liverpool are about to lock horns at Goodison Park, and his influence in all phases of play is sure to be felt but Evertonians will be thrilled with his recent return to light training.
Liverpool are playing like champions
Though they may be sitting third in the Premier League table behind league rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, Liverpool is playing like champions of England of late and it showed in the Merseyside Derby tonight at Goodison Park.
The Reds jumped to a 1-0 lead on 9-minutes when England international Jordan Henderson bent a lovely finish from outside the area after Andrew Robertson cut his pass back to the top of the box in the wake of Sadio Mané finding space down the left-hand side to allow for the Scotsman to overlap.
And then like a lightning strike just when Everton had done well to work themselves into proceedings despite the early deficit, Henderson played a lovely through ball for star man Mohamed Salah that set the Egyptian icon past left-back Lucas Digne and into the area before bending his effort past Jordan Pickford at the far post. It was the 18th-straight match that Liverpool found the back of the net twice, as the Reds were in the mood to put yet another helpless opponent to the sword after Jürgen Klopp’s troops have put four past the opposition in their last two Premier League fixtures.
Liverpool clocking up more xG in the first 10 mins than Everton have had in four of their PL games this season
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) December 1, 2021
Liverpool was dominant in all phases of play in the opening 25-minutes, owning over 64% of the ball while registering six shots to Everton’s paltry solitary effort from Demarai Gray. But their ability to switch gears from possession football to swashbuckling, high-octane penetrative attacking play was once again on display in a tactical versatility that the stuff of champions are made of.
Demarai Gray proving to be one of the signings of the season
Just when Everton fans started to leave the ground (or go for a pint) after Liverpool’s first-half blitz saw the scoreline read 2-0 to the Reds, summer signing Demarai Gray burst into the box after being put through by Richarlison before he slid his effort under Alisson to give the Toffees a valuable lifeline in the 38th minute.
His fourth goal in the Premier League this season, the former Bayer Leverkusen, Leicester City, and Birmingham City winger is in the midst of the best goal output of his career, with his four strikes coming in fourteen league outings under Rafa Benítez.
Demarai Gray’s goal vs. Liverpool is his 4th in the Premier League this season. 21/22 is now his joint best top-flight season in terms of goals already.
Proving to be a strong addition to the side. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/Dh9oxz8Eny
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 1, 2021
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin still not able to suit up for Everton, Gray was unquestionably the most influential attacking player for Benítez with his combination of pace and confidence on the ball coming to the fore on a number of occasions. And given the fact that he was acquired this summer from Leverkusen for just £2million, thus far he is proving to be one of the signings of the season.
Mohamed Salah; undisputed star man for Liverpool
What Mohamed Salah is doing this season borders on the obscene and ridiculous, and the ever-growing legendary status of the Egyptian forward both back home and on Merseyside continues to take shape.
Salah always brings the smoke 🔥 pic.twitter.com/c2oqhMPYG4
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 1, 2021
A fabulous effort in the first half put Liverpool 2-0 ahead after Jordan Henderson slipped Salah through on goal, but the star forward was not done there when in the second-half he pounced on a moment of poor quality from Everton captain Seamus Coleman before he won a 60-yard foot race with the Irishman who valiantly tried to arrest his mistake. Salah was not to be outdone, however, and he eventually slipped his effort low and to the far post to secure a brace that restored the Reds’ two-goal cushion.
His Henry-like effort was his 13th Premier League goal of the season in fourteen outings and his 19th in 19-appearances across all competitions. Salah is a man on a mission, despite once again being overlooked in the Ballon d’Or voting this year coming seventh according to football journalists.
After another influential display, Mohamed Salah is the undisputed heart of this Liverpool team as the Reds hope to eventually outpace Chelsea and Manchester City to the Premier League crown.
ACFON headache that is difficult to ignore
And with the form that Mohamed Salah is in, the resulting problem comes by way of his upcoming expected absence when Egypt will likely partake in this year’s African Cup of Nations.
Both Salah and fellow influential forward Sadio Mané will jet-set off to Cameroon after boxing day for international duty as part of two of the headline nations that will undoubtedly be favorites to make deep runs in the tournament.
.@JamesPearceLFC on AFCON:
“All the speculation about AFCON being cancelled has been rubbished so far. I think it’s too soon to say. Things can change fast in the space of a month with this virus.” #awlive [the athletic] pic.twitter.com/jFs2pTwR5V
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) December 1, 2021
The question of how the Reds can replace the pair remains a big worry, with their attacking options without the dynamic duo resting on Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, and the disappointing Divck Origi.
While Firmino and Jota can remain bright for Liverpool in the absence of Salah and Mane, Origi has failed to step up for the vast majority of his stint at Anfield, but many will be hoping he can conjure his previous Champions League performances that eventually saw the Reds lift the top club honor in European football.