Christmas Day 1923. That was the last time Liverpool had lost four consecutive league games at Anfield. A team including such legends as Elisha Scott, Ephraim Longworth, Tom Bromilow and Harry “Smiler” Chambers were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle; Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mané and Mo Salah will perhaps one day go down as greats but they have now suffered the same ignominy.
For the first time in what seems like years, Jürgen was able to name an unchanged starting eleven as the Tricky Reds looked to arrest a run of three consecutive home defeats in the league. The team looked on the road to recovery against Leipzig midweek, if still not firing on all cylinders, and were obviously going to be up for the Derby, given what transpired in the reverse fixture back in mid-October.
The Bitters hadn’t won at Anfield this millennium but got off to a flying start. Thiago conceded possession and Rodriguez released Richarlison, who beat Kabak and drove low past Alisson into the far corner. Needless to say, there was no lengthy VAR review and line drawing to mark some random part of the Everton player offside, which would almost certainly have happened had we scored an identical goal.
The home team couldn’t get going at all and could barely mount an attack, with the strong wind certainly not helping. Hamess drilled a low free kick straight at Alisson, before Mané teed up Bobby but the Brazilian’s shot was deflected wide. Seconds later, Henderson launched a superb volley from the edge of the box but Pickford managed to tip it wide.
Robertson failed to control in the area as he snuck past Coleman and then Trent’s drive was tipped over by the visiting goalkeeper. Just as it seemed like the Reds were finally finding their feet, a setback: Henderson went down while trying to escape Doucouré’s attentions and the captain had to be replaced, after trying to run it off. Nat Phillips came on for central defensive partnership number 4,083 of the season.
Trent hit a 25-yard free kick well over, before Digne crossed and Coleman flung himself at the ball at the far post. The defender’s flying header was clawed wide by Alisson; it could easily have been 2-0.
Jones curled an effort a yard or so wide from the edge of the area; Phillips headed into the side netting from Thiago’s lifted free kick. As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, the hosts had probably been the better side but, perversely, could have been two goals down.
The second stanza started with Sadio heading straight at England’s number one (even though he’s number two) from Jones’ cross; it was at least an attempt on target. The Reds were building up a head of steam and Mané headed over a few minutes later; this time, the cross was slightly too high and he was on the stretch.
Keane did well to deny Sadio just as he was about to pull the trigger; Bobby produced a tame effort when he really should have done better just before the hour mark. Shaq replaced Jones soon afterwards and just failed to control when in a promising position. Trent drove in a low cross from the right but nobody was able to apply the finishing touch.
Salah and Shaqiri combined and Mo tried to steer home from six yards but Pickford did well to smother. Bobby blasted over from the edge of the box after good build-up play from Trent. The champions were dominating possession but not creating anything clear-cut; then the visitors were awarded a generous penalty with eight minutes left to play. Calvert-Lewin went down in the area, with both Trent and Alisson in close proximity, and Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot. The ref went over to the VAR monitor- for show only, no doubt- and the decision stood. Sigurdsson rolled home from the spot and Everton had their first league win at Anfield since 1999. I’m sure they’ll be bopping away to Prince across Stanley Park tonight.
Next up is a whole eight days’ break until we make the trip to Sheffield to face United next Sunday evening. The games come thick and fast after that one and, even though Chris Wilder’s men are currently bottom of the table, results this season have shown that no game should be taken for granted. We really need to wake up now- it’s going to be an uphill battle to get a top four spot after this defeat.
MOTM: Bill Gates. The former Microsoft CEO and philanthropist has just published a revolutionary green manifesto; I’d suggest that anyone with a subscription to the Financial Times read it. Things only change when rich men want them to change; let’s hope that Mr Gates can convince some of his billionaire chums to join him and actually make the world a better place.