Report: Everton Share Derby Spoils

A highly-charged 233rd Merseyside derby finished scoreless but not for the want of trying on either side. Michael Keane and Lucas Digne defended wonderfully at different junctures to prevent Everton from falling behind.

At the other end, Bernard and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both threatened to break the deadlock in the hosts favour.

The first-half’s standout moment was provided by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Twenty-eight minutes had elapsed when Mohamed Salah streaked onto an incisive Fabinho pass, struck from the middle of the pitch.

The forward progressed into the penalty area, opening up his body before shooting across Pickford. The England ‘keeper flashed out an exceptionally strong right-hand to deny the Egyptian.

Jordan Henderson directed the loose ball on target but was repelled by Seamus Coleman flinging his body in the way of the midfielder’s strike.

Keane was similarly exceptional 10 minutes into the second half. Salah was the Liverpool player causing trouble again, right boot on the draw and poised to shoot after Trent Alexander-Arnold had smuggled through a pass, when Keane flew in with a perfectly-timed intervention.

Coleman’s fellow full-back Digne pulled off his own exceptional piece of defending four minutes before the break, intercepting at the back post with Alexander-Arnold poised to meet Andrew Robertson’s deep left-wing cross.

Salah had been a menace early on, drawing a fairly routine save from Pickford with a left-foot curler not long after Everton captain Coleman had covered brilliantly to stop the Egyptian having a free run at goal.

Everton created the game's first opening on seven minutes.

Idrissa Gana Gueye and Digne combined to usher Bernard to the byline. The Brazilian dug out a teasing cross but neither Dominic Calvert-Lewin nor Theo Walcott were able to gather in the ball.

Walcott was booked for illegally impeding Liverpool’s subsequent counter.

But the forward was back on the offensive around the quarter hour.

Calvert-Lewin rolled Joel Matip and squeezed a pass forward for Gylfi Sigurdsson.  He cut the ball across the face of goal but with Walcott fast descending on the scene Virgil van Dijk slashed it behind.

Robertson was the Liverpool defender happy to concede a corner midway through the opening half when Bernard’s crackling delivery momentarily unsettled the away team.

Pickford, meanwhile, was sharply off his line to grab centre-half Keane’s back header with Sadio Mane lurking.

Alisson Becker flew to his right to hold Calvert-Lewin’s header from a Digne corner seven minutes after the break. And Pickford’s handling was flawless sixty seconds later when he was confronted with a nasty, dipping, Alexander-Arnold free-kick.

Digne whipped the ball off the toes of Fabinho with the Brazilian poised to shoot from six yards on 68 minutes.

Richarlison, on for Walcott, advanced to have a blast at goal blocked by James Milner – a minute or so after substitute Miler had seen an effort meet the same fate when it crashed into Morgan Schneiderlin.

Calvert-Lewin’s last act before being replaced by Cenk Tosun was to slip a ball around the corner for Richarlison. He had Sigurdsson and Bernard screaming for the ball in the middle and opted to pick out the latter. Bernard, though, lost his footing as he advanced and could not make contact six yards out.

The game was becoming stretched late in the piece. Van Dijk got a toe in to halt Bernard's dribble across the fringe of the box, while Matip was wide with a header from Alexander-Arnold's corner. Digne then dusted himself down after being dumped to the turf by Alexander-Arnold to whip the free-kick through a forest of bodies in the penalty area.

Everton can reflect on a satisfying afternoon's work and look forward to nine Premier Leauge matches when they will aim to climb from 10th spot and close a six-point deficit to Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh.

Lively Lucas

Lucas Digne was a teammate of Mohamed Salah’s for a season at Roma.

Boasting inside knowledge of a player and being able to stop him, however, are two different matters altogether.

Digne was excellent, smothering Salah for the most part but retaining his attacking ambition.

The Frenchman is a very astute reader of the play and can detect danger a mile off. His best piece of defending actually arrived with Salah completely out of the picture.

Digne was on alert when he saw Andrew Robertson sizing up a cross from deep on the opposite flank. Out the corner of his eye, he’d have spied Trent Alexander-Arnold advancing onto his left shoulder.

Robertson’s cross was good, meaning Digne had to be, too. He stationed himself in front of his opponent and guided the ball out of harm’s way.

He did brilliantly to recover and smack a bouncing ball out of Fabinho’s orbit in the second-half, too.

Digne sent in a couple of terrific corners, too, one landed on the head of Dominic Calvert-Lewin for an effort saved by Alisson Becker.

Another cross from open play was arced directly to Richarlison, who could not generate sufficient power to stretch Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson. It was a top-class display from a high-calibre footballer.

At The Heart Of Battle

Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gana Gueye combined in midfield, here, after the pair were reunited to very good effect at Cardiff on Tuesday.

France international Schneiderlin and Senegalese counterpart Gana were tasked with pouring through an awful lot of work in direct opposition to Liverpool’s three-man midfield.

Both men were sharp into the tackle, denying Liverpool space and forcing their opponents to move possession in an instant.

Schneiderlin followed up a block on Andrew Robertson’s cross in minute 20 by descending on the left-back as he tried to cushion the rebound.

Gana was excellent positionally, as is his wont, scenting danger to tackle, intercept or give his man the hurry-up: whatever the situation required.

In the same way Schneiderlin and Gana offered protection for their back-four – cutting off the supply-line to Liverpool’s forward trio and shifting across to shield their full-backs – Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled his weight to help the two men behind him.

Sigurdsson’s primary task was finding the keys to unlock a Liverpool backline which, much more often than not this term, has been virtually impregnable.

When Liverpool had possession, however, Sigurdsson was briskly on the shoulder of their deepest-lying midfielder, typically Fabinho, to prevent Everton being left a man light in the centre of the field.

Gana and Schneiderlin tried to use the ball purposefully, too, and were confident enough to trade passes in a congested area late in the first half.

Their energy levels were high, their concentration similarly impressive. When an Everton set-piece petered out midway through the second half, it was Schneidelrin and Gana who quickly formed half on an auxiliary back-four with Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma stranded upfield.

Schneiderlin received a termendous hand when he made way for Andre Gomes late on. Gana was out there till the last, harrying, chasing and ensuring Everton did not finish empty handed.

Big-Game Bernard

Bernard had 29 minutes at Cardiff in midweek to lay claim to a derby starting spot. He needed, as it turned out, roughly five of them.

In the few seconds it took him to swerve his hips and drop a shoulder to escape home defender Bruno Ecuele Manga and, ultimately, create a goal for Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernard gave his manager something to consider.

Indeed, Marco Silva made a beeline for the player at the final whistle in south Wales, keen to give Bernard a pat on the back for carrying out his instructions to the letter.

The 26-year-old, then, started his 16th Premier League match here – his second in five weeks after playing from the off against Manchester City last month.

A 14-cap international who owns a bank of Champions League experience, Bernard knows his way around fixtures of this magnitude.

He experienced the tinderbox Shakhtar Donetsk-Dynamo Kiev clash on 11 occasions in league combat and won five and drew three of those games.

Bernard grasped the initiative on his flank, driving at Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold to stand up an inviting cross from tight to the dead-ball line on seven minutes.

Alexander-Arnold’s raiding from full-back was identified as instrumental to the visitors’ attacking ploy pre-match. Bernard’s willingness to play on the front-foot was especially valuable, then.

Another low delivery midway through the opening half could have paid handsome dividends without Andrew Robertson reading the threat and getting ahead of Theo Walcott to clear.

Not that Bernard became embroiled in his one-on-one duel at the cost of all else.

Anticipating play developing down the right, Bernard more than once tracked across the width of the pitch to lend his side a numerical advantage.

When Everton were forced deeper after half-time Bernard knuckled down and did his share defensively. He lent Digne a hand on plenty of occasions without sacrificing his attacking thrust.

Indeed,afforded the rub of the green he might well have converted a low centre from compatriot Richarlison with 16 minutes remaining.