Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Everton 0-1 Liverpool analysis

Premier League

Jurgen Klopp spoke before the game of his preparation prior to his first experience of Goodison Park: a night at the movies with Sylvester Stallone and Creed.

For those uninitiated on all things film, the final fight was shot at Everton's ground, their partisan crowd a central narrative point.

Given the start Liverpool encountered – Everton bombarding the box with crosses, diagonals and balls zipping around head-height – perhaps The Alamo might have been more appropriate viewing.

But it soon emerged that the Reds boss might have picked up a little bit of pertinent information from that boxing bonanza: the art of rope-a-dope. Letting their opponents tire themselves out before targeting the knockout blow.

After all, Klopp had emphasised beforehand how important it was for Liverpool to remain in the game from the first whistle.

A risky strategy in a game in which the currency is so often fine margins, undoubtedly. At times, it was tested, with Everton finding themselves in promising positions.

Liverpool started to play in the latter stages of the first half and fashioned the best chance up to that point, a flowing move deserving a better finish from Divock Origi.

But then their intentions were laid bare in a superb half. Everton had punched themselves out in a frenetic opening, with the Reds now bobbing and weaving.

Klopp's side looked the likelier – bar a moment of magic from Romelu Lukaku or Ross Barkley – and so it proved in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

There is the potential to overstate Klopp's tactics here. There is nothing to say this was simply a side who were startled by the hosts' strong start, felt their way into the contest, before finding their rhythm in the second half.

Such has been the German's excellence at times this season, it was hard to argue this was all pre-planned.

In Creed, it is the blue corner who won on a split decision.

Maybe it was in Klopp's script all along that it would be the Reds with their hands raised in a similar fashion at the end of this particular evening.



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