A Dodgy Referee, A Player That Reappeared in The second Half - The Merseyside Derby
Today marked the day that Liverpool supporters feel is the most important in the football calendar. It was of course the first of this seasons two Merseyside Derbies and the result would hopefully be a lot better than its predecessor the year before. That game as I am sure you will all recall was hailed as our best game of the season by then manager Roy Hodgson, but of course we the supporters knew better and realised that it was nothing short of a diabolical performance.
Today though the man in charge was Kenny Dalglish who would be returning to Goodison as Liverpool manager since 1991 when he called time on his Liverpool career due to the pressures caused by the Hillsborough disaster. He was looking for nothing short of a win and everyone hoped that team chosen for the game would do just that.
That team contained one change from last week, with Dirk Kuyt returning to the first eleven and Jordan Henderson dropping down to the bench. The one thing that did surprise a lot of the supporters, myself included was that Craig Bellamy had not been given a start, given that he has a way of getting around defenders and passing the ball quickly. Kenny still has a lot of faith in Andy Carroll and he was the man to partner Luis Suarez up front.
The game had been chosen as the early kick-off and with the unseasonable heat, Goodison must have been like a cauldron for the players from the moment they stepped onto the pitch. But step onto the pitch they did for a game that would contain several incidents and the obligatory red card.
The First half started with Everton appearing to have the upper hand much to the delight of the home supporters. But as often happens on these occasions nerves took over and both teams seem lose their way for a while. At this point the nearest Liverpool came to getting a goal was a wonderful pass to Luis Suarez from Dirk Kuyt but he was unable to convert this to the much needed goal.
Then came the incident that was to change the game. Around the twenty third minute of the game, Jack Rodwell tackled Luis Suarez which sent him to the ground and referee produced an immediate Red Card. Now I am not expert but the tackle nothing more than, a good old fashioned one. It certainly did not warrant a red card and this opinion has been voiced by both reds and blues since the game ended. Jack Rodwell as you can imagine was extremely angry and after being escorted of the pitch let his temper get the better of him as he entered the players. What he said and did was wrong
The half continued and although Everton were now down to ten men, they played as well as they could and even caused Pepe a couple of problems when Louis Saha and Tim Cahill both had balls saved. There had also been a couple of fouls that Martin Atkinson chose to ignore, which of course got the Goodison crowd going and they began to question every move that the players from both sides made. One though was a clear penalty when Jagelka lunged into Luis Suarez which Dirk Kuyt duly took but miss-timed his kick and Tim Howard made of the save of the game.
With the score remaining at nil-nil, they went into the dressing rooms at half time. This caused people to wonder if Kenny would make any chances ready for second half, particularly since Andy Carroll appeared to go missing and Charlie Adam did not appear to having the best of games. He did not and as the teams appeared for the second half it was David Moyes who had decided that a change was needed.
Both teams immediately started where they had left off and with Everton tiring in the heat, Liverpool began to get the upper hand. Still the goal would not come and with the clock beginning to tick down, Kenny made two changes, Stevie G came on for Charlie Adam and Craig Bellamy for Stuart Downing.
These changes of course had the desired effect. The pattern of play became better and there was finally enough service into the penalty area to ensure that Andy Carroll woke up. Suddenly the player in him emerged and he was going after headers as well as trying to play the ball along the floor. It was Craig Bellamy though that gave him the ball he had been yearning for all afternoon and suddenly from a distance of twelve yards the ball found the back of net.
Andy had scored his first goal of this premiership season and began to poach for another one. That of course did not happen for him, but for his partner in crime Luis Suarez who picked up a ball and with his usual footwork confusing the Everton players found the back of the net. Liverpool were now two up and with the gam as many people believed put to bed, Everton had a shot at the goal but could not convert.
With the ball back in play, Stevie G was proving that he was indeed back and in fact nearly scored a goal. He picked up a wonderful ball but slightly miss timed his kick and it went passed the goal mouth. Another time a fully fit Stevie would have hit the back of the net and I am sure it is something that we will see before the end of the season.
Kenny made his final substitution in the closing minutes of the game with Jordan Henderson coming on for Lucas, who once again had a fantastic game. There was little of course he could do in the time remaining but it did not matter because the ghosts of a year ago were put to bed.
Now normally, I would finish there, but several incidents marred the end of the game and I sincerely hope that Everton launch an investigation into both. Towards the end of the game, bottles and coins were being thrown onto the pitch each time a Liverpool player took a throw or a corner. This of course is not only stupid but also dangerous. There were also I believe chants about Hillsborough which accompanied some of the Everton supporters swaying. This has to be stopped immediately and it is shocking that people who may have had an indirect involvement in the disaster stooped so low.