ANCELOTTI ANALYSIS: THIS IS HOW EVERTON BEAT LIVERPOOL FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS CENTURY
On Saturday, February 20, Everton did what fans have been waiting for since the turn of the century: they beat Liverpool at Anfield.
Richarlison scored early with a through-ball from James Rodriguez. Then in the 83rd minute, Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned a penalty to secure the win, converted by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Statistics show clearly how Carlo Ancelotti orchestrated his famous win over Liverpool.
Liverpool had 29 crosses in the game. This wouldn’t have troubled Everton as they have much taller defence than Liverpool’s forwards.
Part of Ancelotti’s game plan would have been to limit Liverpool to crossing, which was achieved successfully.
Another big tactical decision that paid off for Ancelotti was using Jordan Pickford in goal.
Pickford famously lost Everton a derby at Anfield due to poor decision making and Ancelotti trusting him in this one paid off.
Though it might have been easier due to the lack of crowds, Pickford still stood out for having a fantastic game.
Notably, Pickford made an acrobatic save to stop Jordan Henderson’s volley.
Everton held up defensively too. They made 32 clearances during the game.
This is also shown in that seven of Liverpool’s 15 shots were from outside the box, a testament to Ancelotti training Everton not to be broken down.
The big change was in formation for the toffees. A fixed midfield-three with James and Richarlison up front has been used before, but there was a flexible back 5 with wing-backs that either tuck in or commit forward.
This allowed a more stable back four even in time of possession, while also creating an overload in areas when needed, mostly on the left with Lucas Digne.
This means that Liverpool’s diagonal balls between fullbacks are less effective as the wings are covered.
This width is one of Klopp’s main weapons and it was crucial to neutralise that to prevent them stretching the midfield.
While Everton were mainly focused down the left before the change, Calvert-Lewin mainly operated further on the right.
Despite achieving only 12 touches, Calvert-Lewin acts as a focal point to relieve pressure from the midfield and defence, as well as work the defenders preventing Liverpool from easily playing from the back.
Though he did not start, he clearly affected the game, and earned the penalty to secure the result.
Calvert-Lewin also creates momentum as a player who always runs and keeps up the counter-press to prevent Liverpool from playing the ball too easily around the Everton block.
This was important for the last 30 minutes as fatigue could have lost Everton the fixture, but instead Calvert-Lewin spearheaded their way to the win.
Regardless, this win is symbolic in that it’s a milestone that needed to be achieved for Everton to push forward to try and get European football.
Now that 20 year record is gone, it should make future Merseyside derbies a lot more interesting affairs.