High-Flying Everton Exorcise Decade Old Demons

For Everton, it had been a long time coming. 


Heading into the 238th Merseyside derby, much had been made of the recent history between Everton and Liverpool. A certain incident in the previous meeting between the two teams was scrutinized. Prior results at Anfield were relived in plenty of detail.


On Saturday, none of that deterred an Everton team that showed an abundance of spirit and togetherness.


Everton looked up for it from the get go, and they stuck to their game plan exceptionally well. 


When the dust had settled, the Toffees had produced a 2-0 victory and a set of memories that will be cherished by Evertonians for years to come.


Game Recap


First Half


In contrast to previous meetings between the two sides, the Toffees managed to get off to a flying start this time around. Everton took the lead just three minutes into the contest, after Richarlison capitalized on an opportunity created by a wonderful James Rodríguez pass.



The control from James was top-notch, and Richarlison produced a finish to match. Just like that, it was the first time since November of 2013 that Everton had held any sort of lead against their bitter rivals.


From there, Everton executed their game plan to perfection. The Toffees allowed Liverpool the lion’s share of possession (71% according to FotMob), but defended resolutely. In short, Everton refused to give the home team the time or space they needed to respond to the early goal. 


Second Half


There were a whole host of defensive highlights from the likes of Michael Keane, Mason Holgate and Jordan Pickford. However, this crunching Ben Godfrey challenge illustrates Everton’s mindset best.



As that clip suggests, Everton showed total commitment to a man.


In the 81st minute, a good night for Everton became an even better one. Trent Alexander-Arnold brought down Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the box, and Everton were rightfully awarded a penalty.



Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up and slotted the spot kick home to double the Everton advantage.


Even with the two goal cushion, the final whistle could not come soon enough. When it did, it triggered pure elation.



The only downside was that there were no Evertonians in the away end to create the noise that the occasion deserved.


Past Disappointments


In recent years, there have been times when Everton have been mentally beaten against Liverpool prior to kickoff, especially at Anfield. On top of that, it seemed as though Everton were set on losing these games in the most heartbreaking manner possible. 


It was bad enough that Everton had been winless at Anfield since 1999 and winless period against Liverpool since 2010. The way in which those games were being lost was almost unbearable.


Divock Origi’s off the crossbar winner and Curtis Jones’ FA Cup knockout blow stand out as being particularly unbelievable. If it were not so heartbreaking, it would have been almost comical that one team could find so many devastating ways to lose.


Flipping The Script


This time around, things were different from the get go. Everton came into the game with a fighting spirit and a belief that they could compete. Liverpool had the majority of possession, but Everton dictated the feel of the game.


It was absolutely wonderful to see the Toffees march into Anfield and play exactly how they wanted.


In terms of individual performances, there were a number of redemption arcs on display.


Jordan Pickford shook off unsavory memories and rose to the occasion brilliantly, producing a number of key stops.


The back line came together and defended as a unit perfectly. The center back pairing of Ben Godfrey and Michael Keane was immense, and Seamus Coleman, Lucas Digne and Mason Holgate all made numerous contributions as well.


The midfield complemented each other well, with Tom Davies and James Rodríguez standing out among the starters. 


The forwards took advantage of the opportunities they got, with Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin each making vital contributions to one of the two goals.


Above all else, Carlo Ancelotti produced a tactical masterclass. The veteran manager set his team up with the perfect amount of tactical fluidity in order to neutralize the opposition while still creating offensive threats of his own.


What it Means


The significance of this triumph certainly has not been lost on the fanbase. With the final whistle came a sigh of relief that had been two decades in the making. 


It is also heartwarming to see what the victory means to those at the club.



Carlo Ancelotti absolutely nailed his post match discussion of the spirit that his team showed. 


“This game can say to us that we can compete,” Ancelotti said. 


It is impossible to predict how the rest of the season will go, but this victory does feel like the sort that could act as a springboard for Everton. After having beaten Liverpool for the first time in so long, it is only naturally that there is a newfound belief that Everton can go toe to toe with anyone.


As the project with Ancelotti at the helm and the new stadium in the works continues to unfold over the next few years, I’d wager that this victory will be looked back upon as holding tremendous significance. 


Final Thoughts


For me personally, this is by far the highest high I’ve experienced during my time supporting the club. I have never seen an explosion of happiness among Everton fans on Twitter and Reddit that has matched the one that has occurred over the past few days.


The periods of disappointment in the past have certainly made this victory even sweeter now that it has arrived. Even if the wheels inevitably come off again at some point in the future, we will always have this one.


For now, I’ll leave you with this work of art from one Tom Davies.



Hang it in the Louvre.


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