Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Match Report: Liverpool 0 - 0 Everton

Liverpool and Everton cancelled each other out in a forgettable 220th Merseyside derby bereft of incident.

The draw may have strengthened the Toffees' chances of finishing above their near-neighbours for the second successive season - something which has not happened since 1937 - but they rarely came close to ending a 14-year winless run at Anfield.

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini had the visitors' best chance, volleying wide from close range in the first half, while Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard saw Sylvain Distin clear off the line after the break.

However, just three bookings in a game which has seen 20 red cards in the previous 41 meetings indicated a lack of bite.

Sixth-placed Everton, five points ahead of their near-neighbours, did not have enough in their locker to end their drought on enemy territory and Jamie Carragher, on his 30th and final Merseyside derby before retirement, had one of his quieter afternoons.

Similarly, without Luis Suarez the Reds struggled to break down a defence which was brilliantly marshalled by Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.

Liverpool looked to utilize Daniel Sturridge's pace early on with Jordan Henderson's superb 60-yard crossfield ball into his path surpassed only by Gerrard's from the opposite diagonal which resulted in Distin clearing the striker's cross.

Gerrard was making his 36th consecutive league start, equalling his previous longest run set between April 2006 and April 2007, in spite of a long-term shoulder injury.

His further participation became a concern when he crashed to the floor in tangling with Leon Osman and although he moved gingerly for the next few minutes there was little chance of the Huyton-born midfielder dropping out of this one early.

But in truth the visitors took their superiority in the table onto the pitch as they had the better of the opening 25 minutes in which they should have taken the lead.

Fellaini had the best chance of the half when he got on the end of Leighton Baines' 17th-minute free-kick but somehow shot across goal and just wide of the far post from about four yards.

By the half-hour Liverpool had regained their composure and only the excellence of Jagielka, superb throughout, prevented a goal.

First he blocked Gerrard's shot from Henderson's cut-back, with the Liverpool captain then curling a free-kick just wide, before an even better effort denied Philippe Coutinho just as he was about to pull the trigger.

The slightest error by the Everton captain would have resulted in a penalty or a goal but his timing was immaculate.

Fellaini's afternoon began to get more frustrating, however, highlighted by him marching towards referee Michael Oliver to demand a free-kick - which was subsequently awarded.

The official was lenient again with the Belgium midfielder by taking no action when he appeared to thrust an arm towards Gerrard's face as the two tangled.

Coutinho, the mastermind of last week's 6-0 drubbing of Newcastle, had initially struggled in the frenetic derby atmosphere.

But early in the second half he played a fine through ball but Sturridge could not get round Tim Howard in a one-on-one situation and eventually fired into the side-netting.

Distin had the ball in the next just before the hour from a Baines' corner only for Oliver to disallow it after the usual pushing and holding in the penalty area and book Victor Anichebe for dissent.

The Everton forward was lucky not to be punished further after an apparent - and pointless - dive midway in Liverpool's half but, as he had done all game, the official showed leniency.

Coutinho opted for delicacy as opposed to power and lifted a shot well over before Gerrard - after a swift passing exchange with Sturridge - was denied only by Distin's goalline clearance after the midfielder had gone around Howard.

Anichebe's deflected shot ballooned up off Lucas Leiva and Jose Reina had to make a late decision to push it away as it threatened to creep inside the post before the match petered out in a goalless draw.

Gerrard Disappointed At Lack Of Cutting Edge In Derby

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard bemoaned the fact that his side lacked cutting edge in their goalless draw with Everton.

It was Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher’s final Merseyside derby and Gerrard said that the whole team wanted to win for him.

"We all wanted it (a winning goal) for him (Carragher) but Everton have improved a lot," he told Sky Sports.

"They're a good team who are difficult to beat. I think that sums our season up in a way where we have played well but just lacked that cutting edged against the sides above us.

"We'll take a point, but we're disappointed it wasn't three."

Gerrard had high-praise for his retiring teammate and believes he will be difficult to replace.

"You've seen his display. I think we limited Everton to very few chances on goal and since he's been back in the team he's probably been our most consistent player," he added.

"I wouldn't like to be in Brendan Rodgers' shoes when he comes to try and replace him in the summer."

Moyes Angry Over Disallowed Goal

Everton boss David Moyes was left frustrated after a goal from Sylvain Distin was disallowed during their goalless draw with Liverpool.

The goal was disallowed for a push on Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina but Moyes disputed the decision.

"It was a legitimate goal because the goalkeeper actually runs into Victor Anichebe," Moyes told BBC Sport. "If you don't get any decisions at Anfield it makes it difficult to win."

Although Everton’s European prospects have been dampened by the draw, Moyes is still determined to pose a threat in remaining matches.

"The only thing that matters for us is the European picture because as a club we are trying to get back amongst the bigger boys and play on that stage as regularly as we can," he said.

"It will be disappointing if we don't get any reward but we are going to try to win the last two games and see if we can get something."

Carragher Proud Of Winning Derby Record

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher insists he can be proud of his record against Everton as he heads towards retirement.

Vice-captain Carragher became only the sixth Liverpool player to make 30 Merseyside derby appearances in Sunday's 0-0 draw at Anfield - joining Ian Rush, Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Hansen, Ian Callaghan and Ronnie Whelan.

The centre-back, 35, put in a solid display in a match bereft of clear chances for either side. And the point means he will finish his 16-year Anfield first-team career with a derby record of 17 wins, eight draws and five defeats.

Carragher told the Liverpool Echo: "There was a lot of talk before the game about the fact that it was my last derby and people were saying, 'We want to win for Jamie' and stuff like that.

"But also in the back of my head, I knew that Evertonians would have loved to be able to say they beat me in my last derby.

"I wouldn't say I'm pleased with a draw but we've gone another one undefeated. I'm pleased with my record in these games.

"I've always loved playing in derbies. I've always said for me it's the biggest game and I will miss them. I will be watching them next season and I will probably be even more nervous. When you play you can do something about it, but watching is very nerve-racking."

Marouane Fellaini missed a great first-half chance for Everton when he fired wide from a Leighton Baines free-kick, while Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard were unable to convert opportunities for Liverpool after the break.

The main talking point of the 220th Merseyside derby, though, was Sylvain Distin's disallowed goal 11 minutes into the second half. Everton centre-back Distin climbed above Carragher to head in a Baines corner, but referee Michael Oliver ruled that Victor Anichebe had fouled Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.

It was the second time this season a goal had been disallowed controversially in a Merseyside derby. Liverpool forward Luis Suarez had what he thought was a late winner ruled out for offside in October's 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

Asked about Distin's disallowed goal, Carragher said: "I haven't seen a replay but the referee spoke to Anichebe before the corner about getting in front of Pepe Reina. I think that's what he gave it for. I don't think it was for Distin on me.

"They might be complaining about that but we can bring up the goal Luis Suarez had disallowed late on at Goodison.

"We're disappointed we didn't win and I am sure Everton will be pleased. Credit to them as obviously it's a better result for them than it is for us. If you go away from home and don't get beat in a derby game, it's a good result."

Liverpool Look To Swoop For Brazilian Defender Douglas

Liverpool is looking to sign Brazilian defender Douglas on a free transfer.

The 25-year-old has been a long-term target for Newcastle who failed with a £4million offer last summer while Inter Milan has also shown interest.

However, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has expressed interest after realizing Douglas is out of contract. Rodgers is unlikely to have more than £25million to spend this summer, unless Luis Suarez is sold, and wants at least four players.

His priority is defence with Jamie Carragher retiring and Martin Skrtel unsettled. He is a fan of Swansea's Ashley Williams and Tottenham's Steven Caulker but their valuations are high. Liverpool have also watched Stefan de Vrij at Feyenoord and Sevilla's Federico Fazio.

Douglas, full name Douglas Franco Teixeira, has a Dutch passport after playing in Holland for six years.

Liverpool & Arsenal Dealt Blow In Chase For Barcelona Winger

Arsenal and Liverpool target Alexis Sanchez says he does not want to leave Barcelona this summer.

The Chilean star signed for the Catalonia side for an initial €26 million from Udinese in 2011, but has since failed to live up to the hype at the La Liga giants.

At the time the pacy winger was wanted by Manchester United and Manchester City, and was one of the most wanted players in world football.

He has struggled in his first two seasons at the Nou Camp, but despite links with the Premier League Sanchez admitted he wants to stay put.

“I am working every day to help the team,” he told AS.

“I am very happy here. I have a contract until 2016 and I want to stay.

“The squad is so good here, but everyone has been very welcoming.”

Liverpool Refuse To Sanction Williams' Move

Liverpool's owners are refusing to sanction Brendan Rodgers's plans to sign Ashley Williams, Goal.com can reveal.

The Swansea City defender had been heavily tipped to succeed Jamie Carragher at the heart of the Anfield club's back line next season, with the veteran centre-back set to hang up his boots, but Fenway Sports Group has no plans to rubber-stamp any deal.

As revealed by Goal.com in April, Arsenal have stepped up their pursuit of Williams, who turns 29 in August, which threatened to see them go head to head in the transfer market with Liverpool to secure the Wales captain's services.

Rodgers has vowed to "search far and wide" for Carragher's replacement but, while the 40-year-old continues to hold Williams in high esteem from his time at the Liberty Stadium, it is not a view shared by the Reds' transfer committee, which assesses and identifies transfer targets.

FSG's previous management structure saw them fail to broker a deal for Clint Dempsey last summer, with the attacking midfielder's move to Tottenham on transfer deadline day forcing Rodgers to rely heavily on Luis Suarez until January as one of Liverpool's only two recognized senior strikers.

Williams, who agreed a one-year extension to his current Swansea deal to stay with the Capital One Cup holders until 2015, is valued at £12 million, which the Anfield hierarchy do not believe represents good business sense due to the lack of longevity his capture would provide.

However, Goal.com understands that the Americans' reluctance to bankroll a move for the boyhood Liverpool fan does not rule out future moves for experienced players, should they become available at a reasonable price.

Suarez Wants Liverpool Stay

Luis Suarez has revealed that he wants to remain at Liverpool despite receiving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

The Uruguay international striker missed Sunday's derby against Everton because of the incident at Anfield in April.

But the 26-year-old, who has scored 30 goals for the club this campaign, is determined to remain on Merseyside.

With his contract not expiring until 2017, Suarez insists that he has given no thought to leaving in the summer

"I have a deal with Liverpool and this is my present - and future," said Suarez, quoted in The Sun.

"From the day I arrived, I saw how special this derby is, so it is a pain to miss it.

"But we have a big squad which can function without me."

Contract Talks For Gerrard

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is confident he will sort out his future at Anfield in the next couple of months.

The 32-year-old has already started negotiations with Liverpool over a contract extension, and he is waiting to iron out the details.

"They want me to extend, I want to extend, so it's just a matter of time really," Gerrard said.

"How long for I'm not too sure yet. That's under discussion at the moment. But it will get sorted one way or another in the summer."

Liverpool To Play Ajax Cape Town In May

Liverpool has announced they will play Ajax Cape Town in South Africa in a post-season friendly on 21 May.

The game, Liverpool's first in South Africa since 1994, will be played at the Cape Town Stadium just two days after the final game of the English Premier League.

"This visit is part of our off-season activity and shows our commitment to bringing the club closer to our fans all over the globe, no matter how far away from Anfield they may live," said chief commercial officer Billy Hogan.

"It will be fantastic for the club to return to South Africa after almost 20 years."

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are regular visitors to South Africa for pre-season friendlies in recent years.