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Liverpool 1-1 Everton: Six things we learned

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The 223rd Merseyside Derby ended in a 1-1 stalemate on Saturday afternoon, as the Anfield showdown was sparked into life late on by two dramatic strikes from distance.

Steven Gerrard's curling free-kick gave Liverpool the lead, however his former England team-mate Phil Jagielka hit a wonder strike to earn Everton a point in the most amazing fashion.

Both Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez will take stock after a frenetic 90 minutes and have things to focus on, but it's not all doom and gloom for the Reds ahead of their first Champions League away tie in midweek.

1. Liverpool's defence has improved

Thus far this campaign the Reds' back four has been poor to say the very least. They have looked nervy when defending and the new signings were yet to gel until last weekend.

However, the Everton game saw Liverpool be much improved and kept out £28 million striker Romelu Lukaku and co. for most of the game.

With Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo arriving at Anfield in the summer and appearing for the most part this season, they struggled to adapt to one another's game. 

Martin Skrtel was Liverpool's best defender last season,  however he has not been himself either due to the new arrivals not knowing the way each other played.

Lovren seemed the player he was last season for Southampton - he was confident in the tackle and going up for every header with confidence.

Lukaku is one big, powerful striker, yet the Croatian kept the 21-year-old quiet all game. He and Skrtel have not communicated well so far, nonetheless they looked much more confident in going for the right ball and understanding when to drop off.

Alberto Moreno was untidy at times in the tackle, however he tracked back much better against the Toffees and always in aid to keep the out Naismith and McGeady.

2. Adam Lallana is finding his feet

The £25 million summer signing missed pre-season and Liverpool's first few Premier League games due to a knee injury.

He started slowly at Anfield and some questioned his hefty price tag that Brendan Rodgers paid for him.

Against Everton however, he had his finest game in a Red shirt so far. Playing in the midfield three, Lallana started so brightly attacking the Blues' defence and won an early free kick in a dangerous position.

The England International shows excellent vision and has just that bit of class going forward that Liverpool have been missing so far this season. He very much suits playing just behind the strikers, and he didn't gel when playing the further forward role against Aston Villa and Ludogrets in the Champions League.

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3. Mario Balotelli plays well when he wants

It's so frustrating watching Mario Balotelli. At times, he is a world class talent and other times you think he is not capable of scoring goals.

The Italian held the ball up well on occasions and showed his strength throughout. There was one moment in the second half when he looked in danger with three Everton defenders around him on the touchline, yet he still kept the ball and began an attack for Liverpool.

Other times, he was careless and gave the ball away too easily.

I like to take the positives from his performance. He had chances which should have been buried, but Balotelli was in the right place and they will go in, in the future.

He also won the free kick for Steven Gerrard's goal and started the play by working hard to win the ball for his side. I don't think I've ever seen 'Super Mario' work that hard for any other club, but only Italy. Given his record for his homeland, it suggests he will be a hit at Anfield.

4 Raheem Sterling shone again

Every week I say the same thing, but Sterling is becoming one of the best players in the Premier League. 

Against Everton he was once again Liverpool's best player, causing problems for Tony Hibbert and Leighton Baines for 90 minutes. 

The youngster has improved so much over the past 12 months. Sterling is a much more intelligent footballer than he was when first coming into the Liverpool side. He uses his skill much better and links up with his team-mates all of the time.

He has also improved his strength an awful lot, and that was the biggest question critics had of the 19-year-old. 

5. Lazar Markovic needs to learn from Sterling

Markovic arrived on the shores of the River Mersey with a similar record as Sterling. He created lots of noise for Benfica, aiding them to the Europa League final last season.

He possesses bundles of speed and skill, and terrorised defenders in Portugal, making him one of Europe's highly touted prospects.

Liverpool beat a number of clubs including Chelsea to the signing of Markovic, however the 20-year-old is yet to hit it off on Merseyside.

It seems that he is not yet up to the physical demands of the Premier League - from what has been displayed, he gets knocked off the ball a little too easily and doesn't put fully commit to tackles.

Sterling was once like that, however we've saw the drastic improvements he has made. Markovic needs to do the same if he is to succeed in England.

6. Jordan Henderson has really developed

Henderson was once critisiced by many a Liverpool fan. Manager Brendan Rodgers didn't see much in him and tried to off load him to Fulham two years ago.

Now, the former Sunderland man is vice-captain of the club and rightly so. He has so much passion for the club and so much energy when he plays.

However, it is his forward play that has most improved. Whereas the England international was once the man who worked hard for Steven Gerrard to attack, the role's have been reversed.

Instead, it is Henderson who is playing the further role forward and he played two superb through balls in the first half that almost lead to a Liverpool goal. He's become more intelligent all the time and becoming a fine replacement for when the Liverpool captain does hang his boots up.

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