Wayne Rooney a derby disappointment as cowardly Everton draw a blank
The only thing more disappointing than not beating a weakened Liverpool team was Everton spending most of the first 75 minutes not even trying to beat them as a drab Merseyside derby ended 0-0 on Saturday.
For too much of the match Everton played once more like a team just happy to survive, showing none of the intent needed to halt a winless derby run that now stands at 17 matches in all competitions. Everton spent those first 75 minutes waiting for Liverpool to beat them, affording the visitors a level of respect their much-changed starting XI did not need.
Two glaring misses late on grabbed the headlines, but they only served to distract from an overall performance draped in that familiar derby day mix of cowardice and caution. When Everton cannot seize the initiative against an under-strength Liverpool, you begin to wonder if this team will ever end their miserable derby record.
It was a notch below the performances that had supporters purring when he first arrived from Manchester United, but there were times in this match when Morgan Schneiderlin looked like an actual Premier League player again.
Liverpool had a right-back making his first appearance of the season and a 32-year-old centre-back playing at left-back but this obvious area of weakness went untested until too late. That Everton could and should have won the game with late chances wasted by Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin merely compounded the frustration. Even more frustrating was that both chances occurred when attacking the Liverpool full-back positions.
Attacking output amounted to 38 percent possession and one shot on target as Everton failed to score for the fifth time in the last nine league derbies. There is such little onus on trying to play creative football that it puts tremendous and unfair pressure on those in the final third. While both Tosun and Calvert-Lewin should have scored, it was also the only time in the match either had a genuine opening in front of goal.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- This was another failure for the methods of Sam Allardyce as safety-first football again came up short.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 7 -- Aside from disappointing distribution, Pickford impressed in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate as two excellent first half saves helped secure only a second clean sheet in the last 14 matches.
DF Seamus Coleman, 6 -- A strangely subdued outing came to life after an altercation with Danny Ings and a few choice words toward teammate Yannick Bolasie ignited his performance in the second half.
DF Phil Jagielka, 7 -- No doubt thankful that two-thirds of the vaunted Liverpool attack did not start the match, the Everton captain coped comfortably with a makeshift visiting attack.
DF Michael Keane, 7 -- Two crunching slide tackles in quick succession typified a determined display as Keane defended strongly and anticipated danger well, making a game-high 10 clearances.
DF Leighton Baines, 7 -- A typically committed display from the experienced left-back as he continued his recent good form despite the misadventures of Yannick Bolasie in front of him.
MF Wayne Rooney, 4 -- A surprise inclusion after his nightmare display against Manchester City and Rooney struggled again here. His lack of defensive and positional awareness in midfield puts more pressure on his teammates. Angrily reacted to being substituted.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 7 -- Too late in the season to right the wrongs of a collection of pitiful performances to this point, but this was an encouraging start and the rarest of glimpses of the player so effective last season.
MF Tom Davies, 5 -- The 19-year-old has played a lot of football in the last two seasons and this workload and the pressure of performing in a struggling team seems to have slowly eaten away at his confidence.
MF Theo Walcott, 6 -- A real threat in the closing stages but too often on the periphery. Everton need to get him more involved: Pickford had as many touches of the ball as Walcott.
MF Yannick Bolasie, 3 -- One well-struck shot aside, Bolasie looked like someone who had won a competition to play at Goodison. No work rate on any level as even the basics seemed an inconvenience to him.
FW Cenk Tosun, 6 -- Excellent work rate in the face of another 90 minutes spent isolated and starved of service, but the Turkish striker is likely to have nightmares about the headed chance he skewed wide.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 7 -- Led the team on chances created and tackles despite only playing 34 minutes.
MF Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 7 -- Purposeful and effective on the left but lacked composure when it mattered, blazing his late chance high into the Gwladys Street stand.
MF Beni Baningime, N/R -- Added some energy in midfield but little else.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.