Merseyside Derby: The Good, The VAR, and Jordan Pickford

17 October | Goodison Park | Everton 2 – 2 Liverpool

Ya know, I really do want to find some sort of positive in this result, but there is too much pain for me to do so. Before the match you might have been forgiven to think a draw is acceptable, especially without Virgil and Allison, but there should never have been a share of the points.

Before I get into my analysis of the actual match, let me make something abundantly clear… Jordan Pickford should have been sent off in the fifth minute of the match. His scissor-kick slide tackle on Virgil was a reckless tackle that resulted in serious injury. There is no discussion necessary. A red card should have been issued, and I will argue that for the rest of time.

Before I get to the other terrible things that happened in the Derby, let me try to find something positive out of this match. We can start with the third minute of the game: a great counter-attack, some special passing, and the main man Mane put Liverpool up 1-0.

We all know what happened in the fifth minute, but Liverpool seemed to stay composed despite losing their most consistent player.  Without the 6′ 4″ Dutchman in the back, defending set-pieces was always going to be difficult, and Michael Keane took advantage to put a header past Adrian, leveling the teams at 1-1. Even after this setback, Liverpool did not seem to falter. They kept the pressure up, and at the end of every Everton attack, it seemed as though Liverpool were effective in the counter-attack.

By the end of the first half, I felt a little relieved that they were able to keep up a high level of play without Virgil, but I was worried sick about what we would hear about Virgil. At the time of writing this article, it has come out that he could miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Simply devastating.

The second half was much like the first half. Liverpool continued to absorb pressure from Everton, releasing the counter-attack, and keeping pressure high up the field.

The majority of the match was a tense affair. Back-and-forth football, attack, and counter-attack. Neither side looked bad, but neither side looked poised to go up 2-1…. until Mo Salah did what he always does.  He popped up in the right spot at the right moment, and took a sweetly struck half-volley of sorts to make the score line 2-1 to Liverpool. (Side note – congrats to Mo Salah on reaching 100 Liverpool goals in all competitions.)

Everton pulled it back to 2-2 in the 81′. To be fair, Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked dangerous the entire game, it is only right that he got a goal.

As mad as I thought I was in the fifth minute, in the 90+1′ I became incensed. The Richarlison tackle – was Everton purposely trying to take out Liverpool players? Richarlison got the red card for yet another unnecessarily reckless tackle aimed at Thiago’s knee. It was really despicable to see such Sunday league-style tackles in the highest level of football.

The final punch in the gut for this match was VAR. The first time I saw Henderson’s goal, it was onside. The second time I looked at the goal, it was still onside. When I looked at the same freeze-frame as the VAR referee.. STILL ONSIDE. Yet somehow Sadio Mane was deemed to be offside and the goal was disallowed. Every Reds fan around the world has the right to be outraged at this call. It was a terrible call that cheated Liverpool out of the full three points. VAR is supposed to amend clear and obvious errors on behalf of the ref on the pitch; this was not a clear and obvious error. There was no way to tell if Sadio Mane was definitely offside and Liverpool were robbed of deserved points.

In light of all the events of the derby this past weekend, a strong double glass of scotch is needed to get us through the week. So Reds, grab your glass, and I will pour you some of my Johnnie Walker.

I’ll be back for the Champions League at the mid-week. Talk to you then!