Frank Lampard may not have any idea what he’s doing as a manager, or he may be saddled with just the biggest collection of mishmashed parts that don’t fit, but he is aware of history. It was eight years ago, almost to the day, that Lampard’s Chelsea showed up to Anfield to stifle a title-chasing Liverpool. In true Jose Mourinho fashion, Chelsea parked the bus, team charter, and maybe a space shuttle in front of their goal, started wasting time from kickoff by taking forever over free- and goal-kicks, and were bitchy and tetchy in ways that you don’t see outside of a high end coffee shop. It worked a treat, as Steven Gerrard fell on his ass right before half and Liverpool’s title dreams were right there next to him on the ground.
So that’s what Lampard set out his Everton side to do today when they showed up to Anfield. The bank of 10 right outside their penalty box in late April clad in blue certainly caused some disturbing flashbacks for Liverpool supporters (or at least this one). Not only was the bus firmly parked, but the antics were tuned up to 11. Everton players dived all over the place, waited eons over freekicks, and turned any little dispute into a full Lincoln-Douglas debate in front of a clearly overmatched ref Stuart Atwell.
The performance that had the Anfield crowd most up in arms was that of Jordan Pickford who, every time he got his hands on the ball, fell to the ground to clutch it in the style you only see in the dying minutes of a match with a team clinging on to a slim lead, or someone turned off their controller. It certainly didn’t belong in the 11th minute of a 0-0 game. Here’s a prime example:
But whereas that Chelsea 2014 side was still populated with great players, and Mourinho still was in his success window (at the very end of it, as it turned out), this Everton side is still filled with wayward children. So their resistance wilted in the second half, just about the time that legendary Everton-killer (and one of the oddest cult heroes Divock Origi) came into the action. Andy Robertson headed home to finish off a move created by Origi and Mo Salah, and then Origi wrapped up the points himself with his own header with five minutes to go.
Comfortable with a 2-0 lead, and having survived Everton’s Atletico Madrid karaoke, Alisson thought it was time for some classic piss-taking in second half injury time:
The ultimate thumb in the eye toward an opponent whose only hope of getting anything out of a match with their biggest and local-est rival was to go as low as possible tactically, and still not really getting all that close. To the point where Liverpool’s keeper could toss in a joke at the end of the match, the very epitome of “nice try, kid.”
Comedy can be victory.