Everton 0-0 Liverpool: How did Liverpool fare without Mohammed Salah?
In the 231st Merseyside Derby, third-place Liverpool made the short trip across Stanley Park to Goodison Park to take on ninth-place Everton. In their past 22 league meetings, Everton had only been on the winning side once. Coming off a wondrous UEFA Champions League night mid-week, Liverpool had the opportunity to topple Manchester United from second place. For the Toffees, their last match was also against Manchester City, but it ended in opposite fashion to their local rivals. When all was said and done, Jurgen Klopp’s band of merry men were mostly on the bench. The supporting cast was unable to steamroll Sam Allardyce’s troopers. Everton made a late push but frittered away a handful of prime scoring chances.
Here are three talking points from Liverpool’s 0-0 win over Everton.
Nathaniel Clyne returns
Last week, Nathaniel Clyne made his much anticipated to the first team squad after 257 days on the sideline with a back injury. In that span, the Englishman missed 44 competitive games for the Reds, allowing Trent Alexander-Arnold a lengthy run in the side. This week, Klopp decided to pull the trigger on the 27-year-old.
In his first league start of the season, Clyne put in a steady performance. The right-back had 83 touches, completed 37 passes, won two tackles, and made two clearances (WhoScored). Rather disappointingly, Clyne didn’t create a single chance going forward. He struggled to contribute to Liverpool’s disjointed attack.
Nonetheless, his performance will provide much relief to England boss Gareth Southgate as the World Cup nears.
No Salah? No Win
The Premier League player of the season limped off the pitch with a groin injury just after the restart against City midweek. As a precautionary measure, Jurgen Klopp held him out of the derby. This season, Mohammed Salah has broken record after record in a campaign rich in goals. Overall, he’s scored 37 as a Liverpool player, 29 coming in the Premier League.
Without their star man, the onus was on Liverpool’s other forwards to step up. A front three of Danny Ings, Dominic Solanke, and Sadio Mane were given the opportunity. It’s safe to say none impressed, although Solanke flicked a header wide and drove another chance straight into Loris Karius' midriff from point-blank range, Sadio Mane was especially ineffective without running mates Salah and Roberto Firmino. Ings most notable moment was a tete-a-tete with Seamus Coleman near the touchline at midfield. Handbags were compared, brands recommended, not much else. Between them, Klopp's makeshift trio could only muster Solanke's one shot on target all game. Fortunes didn’t change when Roberto Firmino came on for Mane. The Brazilian didn't even find a shot to take.
Is Wayne Rooney finished?
When Wayne Rooney made his heroic return to his boyhood club, he arrived with a demigod's swagger. Seemingly he believed he could walk into Everton’s starting XI and act as the team’s player-manager. Out went Ronald Koeman, in came Sam Allardyce, and things haven’t been the same for Manchester United’s record goalscorer.
For the second week in a row, Wayne Rooney was substituted in the 57th minute by Big Sam. This time Rooney lost his rag on the bench with a highly unprofessional outburst. It’s alleged the 32-year-old shouted expletives in the manager's direction.
He does have reason to be upset. The prodigal Scouser hasn't just talked the talk at Goodison Park. He's walked the walk. Rooney has scored a respectable 11 goals in 33 appearances for the Toffees. But that doesn't make him the Toffees Mo Salah or Harry Kane. Neither does it warrant a diva-like reaction. About the best thing to be said for the tantrum is it was one of the few passionate moments in the match.