For nearly all American sports fans, the Super Bowl was the big event of the weekend. But for me it was the 205th Liverpool derby, the soccer match between cross-park rivals Everton and Liverpool.
This season’s first derby produced an historic 3-0 victory for Everton which left us near the top of table and put us in a position to win both legs for the first time since 1984. However, since that win, normal service has been restored — we have fallen back to the middle of the pack, while the Red Shite have excelled both in the league and in European competition. Going into this weekend’s match at Anfield, Liverpool’s home ground, the Shite had not dropped a point in more than a month and had a home record in the league of ten wins, two draws, and no losses.
Thus, few Evertonians will be disappointed with Saturday’s 0-0 draw. Liverpool abandoned its normal 4-4-2 formation and attacked with three high-quality forwards. But Everton defenders Joleon Lescott, Joseph Yabo, and man-of-the-match Alan Stubbs negated the Liverpool strike force. The Shite had nearly two-thirds of the possession, but rarely threatened to score. In fact, Everton’s Andrew Johnson carved out the best scoring chance of the game, but was thwarted by an excellent save from Liverpool keeper Jose Reina.
The match had to be especially sweet for Stubbs. A Liverpool native and boyhood Everton supporter, Stubbs is now 35. We released him last year, but brought him back during an injury crisis after lowly Sunderland decided it had no use for him. Though Stubbs has enjoyed a revival this year, he had to have been wondering whether this would be his last Liverpool derby. If it was, he went out with a performance to remember.
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