Everton travelled to Anfield on Tuesday night full of belief that they could get a rare three points at the home of their Merseyside rivals, but in the end a 4-0 win for Liverpool extended a woeful run of results for the Toffees in the derby fixture.
The Goodison Park outfit has now not won in 14 consecutive attempts at Anfield, while the three points put distance between the clubs on the Premier League table.
Roberto Martínez will assess the game and feel that his side did not deserve to lose by such a significant margin, but the Spaniard should also take a few lessons away from the defeat.
There is no doubt that the former Wigan manager has worked wonders in his short time at the club, and the fact that losing to Liverpool was only Everton’s third defeat of the season is a testament to just how far the Toffees have come under his stewardship.
Martínez has carried on where he left off at the DW Stadium; imploring his side to play expansive, possession-based football – even in dangerous areas. This has been the making of the likes of Séamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Ross Barkley, who are happy to have the ball in to feet and are excellent in their distribution.
However, the lack of a plan B and the frailties of such as attacking outlook were cruelly exposed by Brendan Rodgers’ charges in the derby fixture.
To their credit, Everton continued to get forward and try and get the goals that would get them back in the game, but the visitors opened themselves up and were vulnerable on the counter attack as a result.
Liverpool soaked up Everton pressure and once they won back possession struck quickly to take advantage of their opponents being out of position, which resulted in two of the goals, won them a penalty and could have seen the visitors concede more.
On another day had one of Everton’s chances in the first-half nestled in the back of the net, the visitors could have potentially escaped with a point. The way it panned out, Liverpool’s finishing was ruthless and the bounce of the ball did not favour Everton.
Despite all the positive opinions surrounding Martínez’s work at Everton, David Moyes will look at the result and feel that his more-conservative style would have avoided the club getting beaten in such convincing fashion.
Everton may well be a better footballing side under the new man, but Moyes’ pragmatic approach would have seen him keep things tighter and the game closer as a result.
The Toffees should certainly forget about the defeat and put it down to a bad day at the office, and continue their expansive game plan that has worked so well this season. Despite the defeat, Martínez’s men are still firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish and will record more positive results than negative ones for the rest of the season.
However, the lessons learned at Anfield must not be forgotten. Martínez must be humble enough to concede that an expansive game plan may not always be the correct way to set up his team, especially in tough games away from home. Although his mantra of keeping the ball is also admirable, clearing your lines in dangerous situations is also an acceptable option at times.
In the first-half goal flurry that effectively ended the game as a contest, had Martínez urged his team to keep it tight for five or ten minutes instead of continuing to attack, the outcome of the fixture could have been completely different.