Preview: Everton vs Liverpool
Kicking off the month of March will be the eagerly anticipated Merseyside derby. The Reds will make the short trip across Stanley Park to take on the Bluenoses at Goodison Park. Following a glorious 5-0 home win against Watford, Klopp’s men will be confident of taking the fight to their opponents. Everton on their part will be looking to avenge their loss earlier in the campaign.
With it being the tenth last match of the league campaign, this fixture has all the ingredients of a blockbuster affair. Here’s the preview for the 223rd between the two hated neighbours.
Stick By Origi?
With Firmino hobbling off versus Manchester United, Klopp was forced to call upon his backup strikers for the Watford’s visit. Sturridge’s poor performance at Old Trafford might have been on Klopp’s mind as he opted to give Origi his chance. In fairness, the Belgian hasn’t done much this season and it could be seen as gamble by the gaffer.
That gamble though paid off rather well with Origi proving himself much more useful. While he may not have done anything impressive, the young forward carried out his manager’s instructions pretty well. Going up and down that left flank to both defend and support the attack, Origi played his part in Liverpool’s victory. His hard work was well rewarded with an excellently taken goal that beat Ben Forster at the near post.
Although Firmino might be fit in time for Sunday’s derby, Klopp might not be willing to take the gamble given the amount of fixtures Liverpool have to play this month. Therefore, Origi might have just about done enough to convince Klopp that he deserves to keep his starting spot. The bane of Evertonians the last time both sides met, Kopites will be hoping that he could repeat his heroics once again. Considering his 11 direct goal contributions in his last 18 Premier League starts, another Origi start isn’t the worse idea by any means.
Another Sword To Add
As mentioned above, Origi was utilised as a left winger rather than a traditional striker. That left the central role up for grabs. Most people would have gone for Salah who had played there this season, but the spot was surprisingly given to Mane. Despite it being his first time playing in a central role for Liverpool, the Senegalese took up the position like a duck to water. A brace in the first half laid the foundation for Liverpool’s romping victory, with Mane even managing a cheeky back-heel for his second.
Speaking to liverpoolfc.com, Mane said: “It was my first time since I came to Liverpool I played centrally. I always said I’m here for the team, so I try to play any position the coach asks me to play to help the team.”
Mane’s willingness to play in whatever role for the benefit of the team is surely a dream for Klopp. Having passed his audition with flying colours, the gaffer might once again deploy Liverpool’s No. 10 centrally. That of course hinges on whether Origi starts. Even if he doesn’t, Klopp will feel comforted knowing that Mane now has another arrow to his bowstring that could be called upon in the future.
A Chance To Silence The Haters
Following his breakout season as a Red, Salah has failed to match his achievements this campaign. That is not down to Salah’s lack of trying though, with the Egyptian working as hard as ever. His display against Watford was truly splendid, and was seriously unlucky not to be rewarded with a goal. He was a constant menace down the right wing, no doubt leaving Masina with nightmares long after the final whistle blew.
Salah’s recent performance has however fuelled criticism that he’s just a mere flat track bully. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to see how that opinion is formed, however unfairly it may be. One goal in games against top-six opposition is a rather paltry record for a player of Salah’s calibre. Moreover, that goal came against Arsenal from the spot, with the Reds already 3-1 up. In addition, Salah drew a blank in a combined 12 games against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton, PSG, Napoli and Bayern this season – all huge games.
However, to label Salah a flat track bully is a rather lazy assumption. Critics usually fail to acknowledge the fact that our No. 11 is receiving far more attention this season. Teams are more than happy to gang up on him, with Salah finding himself surrounded by 3 players at times. Try wriggling your way out of it even with Salah’s considerable skill, it’s bloody hard! And they also conveniently forget his goals against the ‘big six’ last last season, notably the goals in both legs of the 5-1 thrashing of Manchester City in the Champions League.
Still, it’s rather worrying from a Liverpudlian perspective not to be able to rely on their star forward in big games. Never one to rest on his laurels, Salah will surely want to rectify that blemish of his this season. Everton on Sunday will be a good opportunity for him to do that, with fans still remembering his goal on his derby debut. Our Egyptian King has never gone more than 3 games without scoring, surely it can’t be four right?