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Toffees Chew Up Liverpool Title Hopes

Everton won their cup final. Greater desire, up the fight, however you want to describe it, they simply wanted the result more than Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp, probably for the first time in his tenure at Anfield, must look at his players and think they’ve stopped responding. Any thought of a second Premier League title is now surely over.

A 2-0 victory for Everton, with goals from Braithwaite and Calvert-Lewin, are the bare facts, but doesn’t begin to tell the story. Liverpool played as if they had literally no idea what to expect. Ibou Konate and Virgil van Djik were bullied, a pedestrian midfield continually caught in possession and a forward line bereft of confidence. Worse, it was not entirely unexpected.

This was Everton’s first Goodison derby victory in almost fifteen years, but Liverpool played into their hands from the outset. Again, Liverpool missed golden opportunities to score whilst presenting the opposition with far too many chances. Not clinical in either box. Getting into a scrap, instead of playing football. Giving away free-kick after free-kick, with a naivety and lack of nous, which betrayed their big game experience. Rafa Benitez used to say that you need to play these games with your head, not just heart. In that respect, Liverpool failed miserably.

Having defended like schoolboys for Everton’s opener, their second, after the break, was in many ways worse. Van Djik bullied and blocked from a corner, leaving Calvert-Lewin to nod home unopposed at the back post. Not robust enough, Liverpool lacked aggression all over the place, whilst those in blue, roared on by a boisterous crowd, gave everything. Shockingly, post-match Van Djik questioned whether all those in red did likewise.

Yet, prior to half-time, Darwin Nunez should have scored when one on one and his wastefulness has cost his team dear, not just today, but in far too many games this season. Mo Salah meanwhile, seems to have lost his touch and his poise. Luis Diaz looked up for it and, had his second half strike found the net rather than the woodwork, an unlikely comeback may just have materialised. Though, I doubt it.

Liverpool must now finish the season strongly. Champions League football is not yet secure. Klopp and his players need to dig deep, very deep, but the sense of disappointment must be huge. A season, that only a month ago offered a significant trophy haul, will finish with just a League Cup. Klopp deserves better, and dare I suggest, so do us fans.