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 By Dave Usher

Loris Karius' fine save the highlight for Liverpool in dull Merseyside derby

Liverpool's struggles with early kick offs continued as they never really got going in what was one of the tamest Merseyside derbies in recent memory.

Despite being the better side for much of the game, the Reds could easily have lost it late on when fatigue crept in and Everton created several chances that they were unable to take.

Positives

A win would have been most welcome but the most important thing for Liverpool supporters was avoiding further injuries. Jurgen Klopp's squad is being stretched to breaking point and with a huge game coming up against Manchester City on Tuesday night, the last thing he needed was for anyone else to pick up a knock. So to have come through unscathed is a big plus.

Negatives

Despite dominating the first 75 minutes of the game Liverpool didn't do enough with their possession and they were sorely lacking up front, where Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke failed to make the most of their long awaited opportunities.

Manager rating out of 10 

7 -- Went with a stronger lineup that many perhaps expected but it failed to produce the desired result. The decision to swap Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum from their usual roles was a clever one given that the Dutchman will be needed to play the holding role against City next week due to Henderson being ruled out through suspension.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Loris Karius, 8 -- Only had to make one save, but what save it was. Yannick Bolasie's shot looked certain to bend into the far corner until Karius flew across his goal and turned it around the post. Showed good authority to claim a high cross in the second half and was solid throughout with his kicking.

DF Nathaniel Clyne, 7 -- Making his first start in 10 months, the England man came through without any trouble. Steady and unspectacular, it was as though he'd never been away. Having him back is a big boost as it frees Trent Alexander-Arnold up to play in midfield should Liverpool pick up any more injuries in that area.

DF Dejan Lovren, 6 -- The Croatian was coasting through the game until the closing stages when Liverpool seemed to tire and Everton finally came into it. He was badly caught out late on when he allowed Cenk Tosun to out-muscle him on the touchline but fortunately for him Everton failed to capitalise on it.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 -- Cruised through the game, winning all of his headers and spraying the ball around. Forced a routine save from Jordan Pickford with a long range free-kick and perhaps that might be a sign of things to come as he was something of a dead ball specialist when he was at Celtic.

DF Ragnar Klavan, 7 -- Did well in an unaccustomed left back role. Used the ball intelligently and kept Theo Walcott very quiet until late on when the winger began to finally enjoy some success, probably due to the tired legs of Klavan who had not trained for a couple of weeks through injury.

MF Jordan Henderson, 7 -- Very good in the first half, not so good in the second. Seemed to enjoy the more advanced role he had and one disguised pass to pick out Milner in the box was a delight. As with many of his team-mates, faded in the closing stages which was understandable given the energy they expended against City three days earlier.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 8 -- Employed in a deeper role than usual and he was outstanding. Kept possession well and showed great strength and technique to escape pressure situations on several occasions. This role that may actually suit him perfectly, but Tuesday night will be a much tougher test of his credentials than this glorified training session.

MF James Milner, 7 -- Excellent in the first half and went closest to breaking the deadlock with a fine curling effort that brought an excellent stop out of Pickford. Replaced midway through the second half in what was a pre-planned substitution.

FW Danny Ings, 6 -- Making his first Premier League start since he scored in the fixture in 2015, and frankly it showed. He lacked sharpness and struggled to make any real impact, alhough playing out wide would not have helped him. Worked hard and showed one or two nice touches but it was a frustrating day for him having waited so long for this opportunity.

FW Dominic Solanke, 5 -- As with Ings, this was a big opportunity for him to show what he could do but he failed to make the impression he would have wanted. Went close with a flicked header early on but really ought to have scored with a close range effort soon after that was well saved by Pickford. The youngster is highly thought of by Klopp but he desperately needs a goal as that early season potential he showed has been nowhere to be seen in his recent outings.

FW Sadio Mane, 6 -- Very much on the periphery of the game but looked a threat on the rare occasions he was able to get on the ball. Wasted the one chance that came his way when he blasted a shot high and wide from the edge of the box, and was replaced on 71 minutes in another pre-planned substitution by Klopp.

Loris Karius made a superb save to deny Yannick Bolasie.

Substitutes:

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 -- Burst into the game with an explosive run and rasping shot that went narrowly over, but after that he was dragged down to the pedestrian level of everybody else.

FW Roberto Firmino, N/R -- Rested but eventually came on for Mane. Did very little other concede a couple of free-kicks.

MF Trent Alexander-Arnold, N/R -- Came on for Ings in the last minute and had no time to get involved.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.

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