Ben Lovering explains why Liverpool can match Chelsea’s grit and how their win in the Merseyside derby is proof of their strength in character.
The Christmas period has suddenly become an awful lot better for Liverpool fans, thanks to a 1-0 win in the blistering Merseyside derby. From the first minute at Goodison Park, the Everton fans were noisy and hostile, jeering and booing Liverpool players who happened to wander too close to the touchline. Combined with the ever faithful and enthusiastic Liverpool away fans and the atmosphere was well and truly electric.
While this kind of atmosphere is a delight for the neutral viewer, for any Liverpool player this atmosphere is hostile and incredibly daunting, especially for the foreign players making their first derby appearance. Klavan was the player who the media identified as the potential weak link, short of game time and new to this historic fixture, would he be able to keep himself together?
The hostility of the game was something that was picked up on by many pundits, one so being the infamous Gary Neville. Speaking on Monday Night Football alongside Jamie Carragher, he raised the point that the spine of Chelsea’s team was perhaps the strongest in the league, and one able to adapt to any situation required of them. After this, he stated that he had doubts about whether any of their title rivals could match this rigidness, and whether any other team could deal with potentially rough and ‘dirty’ play when it came down to it.
The answer to his doubts were provided in 98 minutes of exhilarating football on Merseyside. From the off, Lovren and Klavan were composed and combined dealt well with the threat of Romelu Lukaku, a very imposing figure who had a fair height advantage on Klavan.
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Crosses from the onrushing Coleman and Baines were also cleared well, leaving Mignolet with very little to do, shown by the fact Everton mustered up only the single shot on target, a lone glancing Ashley Williams’ header. The physicality of the match did not seem to affect any player on the pitch either. The odd push was not lost upon our players, yet their composure was impressive. This is particularly true or Adam Lallana, as when he was confronted with the aggrieved Coleman and Barkley midway through the first half, screaming at him up close, kept his head and carried on with the game.
Lallana’s influence elsewhere was subtle but very influential. Initially getting very few touches, he started to drop deeper to receive passes, collecting them before playing the ball on to the more advanced Firmino, Mané or Origi. He was the ever-present bridge between defence and attack, proving to be very good at dribbling out of tight situations and relieving pressure from the Everton attackers.
The game showed overall that this Liverpool team is perfectly equipped to adapt to any situation, just as well as Chelsea are, for I doubt that there will be an atmosphere as hostile as the one experienced on Monday night for the rest of this Premier League season. If the Reds can go through almost 100 minutes of this, not only winning but keeping a clean sheet, then surely there is no other stadium in the league that can unnerve this team.
From the Rousing the Kop team, we’d like to wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.