Once again into the court of the crimson ming and once again no win for the Toffees.
It’s hard to think of the ‘prize’ that was at stake in this derby without imagining them minty cartoons they used to have in the tabloids, with two shipwrecked fellas on an unfeasibly tiny island with a single palm tree in the centre. Whoever finishes higher in the league gets to dance around waving the celebratory coconut but little else. And even the people on the deck of the tiny ship on the horizon and the lazy, M-shaped seagulls couldn’t give a shiny shite.
As for Reds and Blues themselves though, well, it will depend on who finishes higher as to how important the ‘achievement’ is viewed locally. Quite depressingly, it actually is something of a feat for us, giving how we rarely finish above them at all, never mind two seasons in succession. For them, edging above us will confirm what they regard as their innate superiority – they finish above us even when they are having a bad* season.
In short then, whoever is lower in the table will mutter to themselves like the single lad in the kebab shop complaining that ‘they were all ugly lesbians anyway’.
Overall it was a rather grim encounter with both sides displaying just why they need to improve quite considerably to trouble a Europa League place next season, never mind a big boy’s Champion’s League spot. As for the title – it’s just about as far away as it’s ever been for Everton. And Liverpool are five points behind us.
There’s always the argument that David Moyes doesn’t ‘go for it’ at Anfield, but this was more or less the most attacking side he could put out. Unfortunately a front pairing of Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini is never going to pose a consistent threat, especially away from home. Playing with essentially two target men asks a lot of the midfielders and they had their work cut out dealing with a combative Liverpool midfield. In fact, talk of a number of them carrying injuries looked bang on as Darron Gibson. Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar all laboured – it was hard to tell with Kevin Mirallas, as he hardly touched the ball.
Steven Gerrard, arguably the outstanding footballer of his generation and a constant thorn in Everton’s side, was given free rein in the centre of the park, by the Blues and referee Michael Oliver, but fortunately time has taken its toll and crying-face’s surging runs have been reduced to the minimum. He’s all about the David Beckam ‘pings to the wings’ now, more than ever, although he still had the home side’s best chances. The first a snapshot blocked by the excellent Phil Jagielka and the second, after the break, saw the equally dominant Sylvain Distin comfortably cut out a shot after Gerrard had rounded Tim Howard.
Distin was also active at the other end, heading home a Leighton Baines corner in the second half. However, Oliver shamelessly blew for an imaginary foul and then booked Anichebe, presumably for complaining, and not just for being shit at footy. One can only wonder at what sort of foul tirade the Everton frontman unleashed upon the official to earn a yellow card given that television viewers all clearly witnessed Gerrard – accurately – brand him a ‘fucking shithouse’ at some volume, with no censure. Presumably it was said in self defence.
Apart from a slack spell at the beginning of the second half, Everton were rarely made to look uncomfortable. Obviously you always expect Liverpool to score, but they would have had to spawn something – not beyond the realms, clearly – as they patently didn’t possess the ability to exert the sort of pressure we came under at the end of recent matches at the Emirates and White Hart Lane.
Daniel Sturridge, for instance, showed why he plays for Liverpool and not Manchester City or Chelsea.
Everton were disappointing too – apart from the Distin goal Fellaini ankled one wide in the first half and an Anichebe shot took a big deflection that panicked Jose Reina in the second. There were a number of opportunities to try and snatch another winner at the end but free-kicks were lofted into the hands of Reina and, with seconds to go, Gibson opted against putting the ball into the box and the Blues settled for the point.
A win against West Ham, or anything other than a Liverpool victory at Fulham, puts this whole thing to bed. It would hardly be worthy of an open-topped bus, but still it would be a relief going into the final match at Chelsea knowing that we are at least king shits on turd mountain.
Finally, we can all look forward to derbies in future without big manly man’s man Jamie Carragher constantly pleading with referees and persistently tugging at their sleeves like a starving Bombay street urchin. The tit.
* This on the rather optimistic premise that what they are currently experiencing is some sort of ‘blip’ when anyone with any sense can see a much more obvious, drawn-out truth.