Wayne Rooney’s 77th-minute penalty earned Everton a share of the spoils at Anfield as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw.
Here, we assess how the two respective managers – Jurgen Klopp and Sam Allardyce – fared in the 229th Merseyside derby.
It was Klopp who used the element of surprise when the sides were announced as he made six changes and left out some big hitters. Only half of the ‘Fab Four’ were in the XI, with Philippe Coutinho, scorer of a hat-trick in midweek, and Roberto Firmino on the bench, while 20-year-old Dominic Solanke was handed just his second Premier League start of the campaign. Having not taken his senior players to Cyprus for a dead rubber Europa League tie, Allardyce reverted back to the team he selected in his first game against Huddersfield, except striker Oumar Niasse was preferred to Aaron Lennon.
The managerial cat-and-mouse continued with the visitors surprisingly in a 4-4-2 that saw Rooney on the right wing. The Toffees’ first act from kick-off was for Mason Holgate to launch an aimless long ball out for a goal-kick – not the first that was dispatched directly from defence. Yet the initial idea – to be compact and contain their hosts – was working well until Mohamed Salah’s moment of brilliance broke the deadlock and undid the plan. Even then Allardyce’s side did not abandon their resolute system and they needed a helping hand from Dejan Lovren to concede a needless penalty and earn the visitors a point.
Behind at the break, Allardyce switched things up for the second half, with Rooney moving from an auxiliary right-back to a more familiar forward’s berth, and Morgan Schneiderlin and Lennon giving them a bit more nous in midfield. Yet still the Toffees were offering little in an attacking sense, which is perhaps why Klopp felt comfortable replacing Salah with 23 minutes to go. It was a move that would backfire as Liverpool lost their attacking verve, and then their lead. Without their talisman, there proved to be no way for them to get it back.
It was abundantly clear Allardyce would have viewed a draw against a free-scoring Liverpool side as a positive result by the way he set his team up. Ultimately that is what he got. What he perhaps did not bank on was Lovren’s role in assisting that cause as well as Klopp’s help by only starting two of the attacking quartet Allardyce had waxed lyrical about in his pre-match press conference. Everton have not won at Anfield since 1999 and that long run continues, but Allardyce will have been the manager smiling about the end result.