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Everton vs Liverpool: Five talking points from Merseyside derby

The first Merseyside derby of the season ended in a pulsating 2-2 thriller. It was proper fun, with two good teams playing some eye-catchy football…and yet the climax was ruined by technology – EVARton, anyone?

Cesc Fabregas encapsulates the moment brilliantly.

a) And that’s how we shift our focus to VAR and how it just ruined the game.

Two big decisions. Both of them went in favour of Everton, and it left the Champions furious.

Jordan Pickford’s reckless tackle on Virgil van Dijk saw the Dutchman not just leaving the field but he could be facing lengthy spells on the sidelines.

On any other day, it could have been a red-card for Pickford and a penalty for Liverpool.

It’s not the fault with the VAR but with those who are making the decisions. You simply cannot expect a monkey to drive a Mercedes and win Formula One Grand Prix.

The men behind the monitor spent minutes in deciding whether Van Dijk was offside and yet they failed to decide whether Pickford should have been allowed to stay on the pitch.

The second major VAR decision that sparked controversy was the late goal from Liverpool that was ruled out. Thiago Alcanatar’s outrageous no-look-pass opened the Everton defence late on, and Pickford made a hash of trying to save Henderson’s winner.

And that’s where the problem lies. Last season, it would have been onside. But under the new rules, the upper arm is legal to play the ball, and thus it’s the forward arm and not armpit that’s being looked at.

On a grand level, this whole debate of fractions of millimetres and freeze-frames solves absolutely nothing. It simply ruins the beautiful game.

b) Liverpool could be left with more frustration if the scan reports of Thiago and Van Dijk come negative. Jurgen Klopp said after the match that ‘it doesn’t look’ good when asked about Van Dijk’s injury, and it would be a devastating blow for the Reds should he miss out a chunk of the season.

Likewise, Thiago, who impressed once again in his first start for the club, took a blow from Richarlison’s nasty tackle, and the Spaniard could likely join Van Dijk on the sidelines.

c) The dual side of Pickford – the England goalkeeper made some excellent saves during the game. He is good at shot-stopping. But that doesn’t answer the problem. It’s his poor decision making and silly errors that stick out like a sore thumb. The decision to tackle Van Dijk and his reckless transgression when he fumbled Henderson’s shot into the net is a timely reminder that Carlo Ancelotti cannot keep happily playing him in the Premier League.

d) And yet Everton showed grit and determination in twice coming from behind to salvage a point. Although the Toffees may still be without a victory in a Merseyside derby for a decade, there are enough signs to be positive about.

James Rodriguez was absolutely brilliant once again, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is re-writing the Everton history books after scoring in five consecutive Premier League games.

e) Just how good was Sadio Mane? You see, that’s the difference between Mane and Mo Salah. The Egyptian drifts in and out of the game, and then can produce a moment of sublime quality out of nowhere (for ex – the goal vs Leeds). It is pure instinct from him.

Mane, on the other hand, has been a constant threat down the flank. His energy and ability to track back give Liverpool another dimension, and that is why he is probably the most important player in Klopp’s system.

It was a typical Merseyside derby classic. And, it would have been better with fans.

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