The Merseyside derby was the best game in the Premier League this season; there can be no arguing that fact.
It had everything football is supposed to be: skill, end to end action, last minute heroics, and goals galore. Fans of both teams - and even the neutrals - had their hearts in their mouths until the final whistle.
The match was played at a blistering pace, with both teams flying up the field at every opportunity. This game had a different feel than any game either Liverpool or Everton has played all season, namely due to the drastic shift in tactics.
The focus for both teams was no longer the possession based, slow building football that characterises the styles of both Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez. The result of this shift was the most exciting, yet somewhat frustrating, game for Liverpool this season.
Rodgers was forced to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as Daniel Sturridge was not deemed fit enough to start. With Luis Suarez as the lone striker and Jordan Henderson and Philippe
Coutinho on the wings, the natural tendency of play was to be channeled through the middle.
The two wingers tucked inside regularly, allowing the full-backs, Glen Johnson more so than John Flanagan, to maraud up the flanks and play crosses into the box.
This sort of movement may have manifested itself every now and then, but really the long ball dominated much of the attacking penetration, a fact that accounted for more of the chances going Everton's way.
More chances would have fallen Liverpool's way had they been able to not only win the ball back at a fast pace but keep it. Too many times the ball was given away in the middle of the park, or more alarmingly, the defensive third. Either the central midfielders/wingers would attempt a one touch pass and completely scuff it, or the centre-backs would linger on the ball too long and lose possession in Boruc-ian fashion.
Many of Everton's best chances came from giveaways by Henderson, Lucas, Martin Skrtel, and Flanagan at the back. Liverpool just needed that one extra bit of sharpness in order to take three points from this game. Spraying passes and missing shots are a part of every match, but the regularity with which Liverpool cheaply conceded possession was frustrating for any fan to see.
More than Everton getting in their way, they got in their own way. Joe Allen clearly over thought his one on one with Tim Howard which would have probably turned the game more in Liverpool's favour earlier in the game.
Shades of the Arsenal match were the last thing anyone wanted to see in this match after jumping out to an early lead, but those same mistakes are truly what cost Liverpool in this game.
It must be said that the high pressure style is new to Liverpool. It goes against Rodgers' tiki-taka sensibilities, but the team adapted quite nicely. Coutinho and Suarez in particular were able to drive at the opposition defence more than usual, and Steven Gerrard's long ball ability was ideal for swift counter attacks.
Simon Mignolet was again superb, and could arguably be Liverpool's most important player. This game was one of the best Merseyside derbies in recent memory, and Liverpool had to play at least pretty well to make that happen. It was fantastic to see the success of set pieces (all three goals came from them) as that is usually a problem area, although the defending of set pieces still has a little ways to go before being satisfactory.
Liverpool can take pride in the fact that despite their mistakes, they did get a point away from home, which is something their fellow top four contenders have not been able to do when not playing at their best. Players, coaches, and fans can take many positives away from Goodison
Park, but the fact that the same negatives keep recurring is a sign that Liverpool must continue to improve if they wish to remain in the top four.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU