Bragging rights barely covers the latest rewards for Liverpool from the Merseyside derby. Victory in the 234th episode protected their eight-point lead at the Premier League summit, extended their unbeaten league run to a club-record 32 games and brought Jürgen Klopp his 100th league win as Liverpool manager. It is also likely to herald another period of expensive upheaval for distressed neighbours Everton.
Marco Silva’s defence unravelled at Anfield as Everton’s search for a derby win at Liverpool entered its 21st year. His hold on the Everton manager’s job may follow suit after an eighth defeat in 11 Premier League matches. The local rivals produced a frenetic first half featuring six goals – including two for Divock Origi as he reprised his role as Liverpool derby hero – chaotic defending and further evidence of the widening chasm between the two clubs. Klopp’s team have their sights set firmly on a first league title in 30 years. Everton are facing a fight for survival that extends beyond their manager’s position. They were swept aside by a Liverpool team minus several of its main assets.
Little has gone Silva’s way this season, not that he is blameless for his predicament by any means, but he did not have to confront a full-strength Liverpool team as Klopp rang the changes. Some were understandable at the start of a demanding and possibly defining December, such as Mohamed Salah starting on the bench as he deals with a persistent ankle problem. But five changes from the side that started Saturday’s win over Brighton – one enforced by Alisson’s suspension – seemed unnecessarily generous even accounting for the fragility of the opponents. Fragility overcame the generosity.
Xherdan Shaqiri was handed his first Premier League start of the season and Adam Lallana only his second as Klopp banked on both getting quickly up to speed with the intensity of a Merseyside derby. They did not disappoint on that score.
Liverpool were dominant from the start, looking to release Sadio Mané in the space behind the wing-back Djibril Sidibé at the earliest opportunity. Everton were uncertain, visibly so defensively, as their new-style back five looked to each other to track the runs of Origi or Lallana’s movement between the lines. Their collective failure to take responsibility led to a complete breakdown whenever Liverpool switched play from back to front and to a horrendous opening for Silva. The ease and regularity with which Klopp’s forwards lost Everton’s three central defenders defied belief.
Mané was irrepressible from the off and headed a good chance over from Andy Robertson’s cross in only the second minute. He then carved open the visiting defence with a glorious pass as Everton’s first attack resulted in Liverpool taking the lead. Lallana launched a counter-attack from the edge of his own area after an Everton move had broken down, taking Tom Davies out of the equation with a fine pass to Mané. Scampering forward down the left he produced the perfect pass behind Mason Holgate and Yerry Mina to release Origi through on goal. One touch took the striker beyond Jordan Pickford before he rolled his fourth Anfield derby goal into an empty Everton net.
The visitors could not get to grips with Liverpool’s ability to switch play or counter-attack with breathtaking speed all game. Mané created the second too. Collecting Trent Alexander-Arnold’s crossfield ball with an impudent touch, the forward cut in from the left and threaded another perfectly weighted pass into the path of Shaqiri. With Gylfi Sigurdsson failing to track his run the Switzerland international was left with the simple taskof steering his finish wide of the exposed Pickford. He duly obliged to leave Everton and Silva facing a monumental task.
Everton’s response was exactly what was required, in fairness, as Alex Iwobi injected much-needed commitment and creativity into the visiting display. Michael Keane produced a polished finish, certainly by the standards of a central defender, when he pounced on Iwobi’s low cross to lift the ball over Adrián and half the deficit. Everton were suddenly dangerous but their lack of quality in attack was telling. Iwobi released Dominic Calvert-Lewin clean through on goal but the striker showed no conviction or pace and was easily bundled into a miscued shot by Virgil van Dijk. It was an important miss, as well as another moment when the England under-21 international went looking for a penalty or free-kick too readily.
Liverpool restored their two-goal cushion with criminal ease from an Everton perspective. A long ball down the centre of the pitch from Dejan Lovren resulted in Origi running through unmarked as Keane dawdled. He finished the move with an exquisite finish over the advancing Pickford. Mané made it four when Everton were again undone by a Liverpool counter-attack.
Alexander-Arnold led the charge and, with only Davies between him and Shaqiri, waited for Mané to join the attack. The Senegal striker swept the right-back’s square ball from the left inside Pickford’s bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Silva had to instigate change and introduced Bernard for Sidibé as Everton reverted to a 4-4-2. It paid off in first-half stoppage time when the Brazilian crossed from the left for Richarlison to beat Adrián with an attempted header, although the ball came off his shoulder en route to goal. The rout was confirmed in the 90th minute when Roberto Firmino, on as a substitute, embarrassed Holgate before teeing up Georginio Wijnaldum for a low finish into the far corner. Mané had missed two excellent chances for the fifth beforehand as Everton, despite a more composed second half, failed to correct their defensive flaws.