Let’s do it again

Liverpool and Everton will play for the third time in a little more than two weeks, following today’s 1-1 draw in an FA Cup fourth round scrap at Anflied. It’s a result that Everton’s play would not likely have produced but for Liverpool’s indifferent present form. So badly is Liverpool struggling at the moment that Everton might well have won, except for a poor piece of goalkeeping by the usually reliable American, Tim Howard. This despite an offensive performance so dire that Everton put only one shot on goal, the one that went in.

Thankfully, our central defenders, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jaglielka, put on a brave and brilliant display. Both are on the fringe of the English national team, and both aided their cause in front of national team manager, Fabio Capello (that’s right, an Italian).

Everton was without its outstanding playmaker, Mikel Arteta. But even his absence, and the inclusion of rarely used midfielder Segundo Castillo and, later, teenagers Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell, cannot fully account for Everton’s inability to string two passes together.

Fortunately, and astonishingly, Liverpool still cannot remember properly to mark Tim Cahill on set pieces. Indeed, the Shite compounded the offense by also failing to account for Joleon Lescott, our other prime aerial threat, on Steven Pinaer’s corner kick. Thus, although Liverpool’s keeper might well have saved Cahill’s header, he was helpless against Lescott’s deflection of Tiny Tim’s bullet.

Liverpool’s equalizer came from, who else, Steven Gerrard, who was put through by a brilliant flick from Fernando Torres. Even so, Howard was in position to stop Gerrard’s near-post shot, but let it past him. It’s a save that Howard makes at least nine times out of ten.

So now the match must be replayed, this time at Goodison Park. Liverpool, battling for top honors in both the Premier League and the Champions League, will not relish an extra contest, particularly against its hard-battling neighbor. But Everton probably will need to step it up considerably to have any realistic hope of keeping its FA Cup run alive.

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