Category Archives: Everton

The Merseyside Derby Penalty: should it have been awarded?

Following the recent Merseyside Derby at the weekend between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield, a match won by Everton, the debate raged around the penalty conceded by Liverpool, who were already 1-0 down at this time

A ball was threaded through the Liverpool defence and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked a good bet to score….

Until…

A decisive tackle by Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to put the Everton striker off his stride.

This resulted in Calvert-Lewin falling into the back of Alexander- Arnold then being carried over the England right back’s head and shoulders before apparently being tripped by his right leg. This caused the Everton striker to fall to the ground and appeal for a penalty.

The appeal went to VAR, which has been the target of many critics this season.

The match referee spent a few moments reviewing the incident, before awarding Everton a penalty, which they subsequently scored with the last kick of the match to win the game 2-0

The penalty has been the subject of fierce debate since and featured on SkySports Football show in the ‘Ask The Ref Segment’ featuring Dermot Gallagher.

Unsurprisingly, Gallagher as so often is the case with him, sided with the referees judgment and viewed it as a penalty.

It could be argued, however, that Alexander-Arnold in moving to intercept the tackle, could be considered a tad unlucky because his initial movement as seen in the video below did not make contact with Calvert-Lewin.

But as Calvert-Lewin hit his back, this caused the defender to bend forward, which resulted in his right leg going upwards and catching the forward

Was it a penalty?

The referee thought so….

Jurgen Klopp obviously did not…..

Public and Pundit reaction is mixed, but I certainly think Alexander Arnold was harshly penalised.

What are your views? Feel free to provide them in the comments below…..

NO VIRGIL, NO TITLE?

With Liverpool’s central defensive colossal Virgil van Dijk likely to miss the remainder of the 2020/21 season following a frankly hideous knee high challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

After scans and a trip to the specialist confirmed the centre-back had suffered damage to his ACL, the Reds chances of back to back Premier League titles have taken a huge blow.

But does the absence of the Dutchman mean Jurgen Klopp’s men cannot defend their crown?

Here’s the reasons for and against Liverpool being able to challenge without their main man.

Against

Virgil van Dijk has undoubtedly been a major contributing factor to the recent success at Anfield. Since his arrival from Southampton in January 2018 the 29 year old has been almost a constant at the heart of the Reds defence, stopping almost all comers and solidifying a previously shaky backline.

The Netherlands captain hasn’t just brought clean sheets and the occasional towering headed goal to Klopp’s side, he has been instrumental in bringing the sixth UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, and the much sought after Premier League title back to Anfield for the first time in 30 years.

His absence leaves Klopp with only Joe Gomez and Joel Matip as available out and out centre-backs, with Fabinho a willing and able deputy. As well as youngsters Billy Koumetio and Rhys Williams, who despite their obvious talents, are someway off being ready for Premier League action right now.

Clearly a huge concern for the Reds who have already shipped seven goals away to Aston Villa this term, with van Dijk in the side. Surely a team who have been so reliant on the Dutchman, who has barely missed a minute’s action since he arrived on Merseyside, can’t cope without him?

For

Despite the obvious hole left in the middle of the defence not only in terms of ability, but also leadership and organisationally, in a league campaign which to date has seen goals aplenty, Liverpool certainly have the firepower to cut it with the rest, and could well adopt a more pragmatic defensive approach with their remaining options, whilst going all out attack at the other end.

The Liverpool squad, whilst now low on defensive numbers, has the midfield quality to both shore up a match as well as attacking one, something which could prove pivotal whilst VVD sits out.

Another interesting plot twist could be the almost impending January transfer window. Previously the club have been reluctant to spend big without securing the finances, however, given the nature of the loss and the situation, their hand could well be forced.

Providing Klopp’s men are still within touching distance of any title race, the German boss could well be on the lookout for a big name centre-half in the mid-season window. This was most likely something that was expected to wait until next summer, however, these plans will almost certainly now be accelerated. A shrewd acquisition getting the second half of the season under his belt and a returning to full health van Dijk could well bode well for future seasons.

There is, however, some good news for the Red half of Merseyside with the impending return of their number one keeper Alisson Becker in the next week or so. The Brazilian was initially expected to be out for six to eight weeks, but it turns out he could now make an earlier than planned comeback. This will almost certainly help sure up the Premier League Champions at times shaky back line.

One final point to make for Liverpool still being capable of retaining their title is the current shape of the league. As things stand it doesn’t seem as though any potential winners will need to acquire 90+ points like they have in recent seasons, Man City with 98 in 2018/19 and Liverpool with 99 last term for example. Instead it seems this year the league could be won with far fewer points, pointing towards a level of consistency lower than we’ve seen previously – whilst Liverpool had a healthy Virgil van Dijk.

Ultimately time will of course tell and there’s no doubting the magnitude of the loss, however, there remains hope Liverpool could still mount a serous title challenge, and in truth perhaps even still run out comfortable winners. But it’s been made far harder with the absence of one of the best around over the last few seasons.

24-7 Football Writer podcast

Our latest episode of the 24-7 Football writer’s podcast features writer Lauren McCann.

We discuss the Project Big Picture Proposal, preview the upcoming Merseyside Derby and the growth of the Women’s Super League.

Link to podcast is here: https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-7

What now for Sergio Romero?

Following the proposed transfer to Everton falling through this summer, the announcement that goalkeeper Sergio Romero has been rather unceremoniously left out of Manchester United’s Champions League squad this season certainly capped a rather frustrating week for the Argentine international. 

To add insult to injury the Toffees ended up signing Robin Olsen from Roma instead after the proposed move for Romero was blocked. 

Romero’s wife Eliana Guercio subsequently took to social media earlier this week saying:

“Sergio deserves the opportunity to go to another club and he has shown what he can do.

“He helped the team reach three semi-finals and then he was left on the bench for them and the side ended up losing them all.

“It is time for them to return the opportunity and let him go. Respect for once!”

The games that Guercio was referring to were the semi-final losses to Chelsea and Sevilla respectively, while the Argentine was also left on the bench for the two-legged Carabo Cup semi-final tie with Manchester City, having played in the earlier rounds of the competition.

So this begs the question, where could the former Sampdoria keeper go now? The 33-year old’s options are certainly limited after the closure of the International Transfer Window

Romero could potentially move to a side in the Championship but this, however, would clearly be a significant step down for a goalkeeper, who just three years ago helped Jose Mourinho and The Red Devils to lift the Europa League. 

The second option would be to look for a transfer to America and the MLS, as their window is still open until October 29.

The issue, however, with this particular move would be that a large majority of the season has already been played and with the play-offs in December, the Romero would find himself waiting until March 2021 when the new campaign begins. 

The only other alternative, therefore would be sit tight until January and make do with the fact that he is now the third choice keeper in a United squad that contains David De Gea and Dean Henderson, who has recently signed a bumper new contract with the club. 

Indeed, this shambolic and rather avoidable episode is just the latest in a number of significantly poor decisions by the Red Devils, in particular Chief Executive Ed Woodward and transfer negotiator Matt Judge in the transfer market.

Where do you think Romero will send up? Give us your thoughts in the comments below…

TOP FIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TRANSFERS

Following the closure, or ‘slamming’ of the transfer window late on Monday night for Premier League clubs wishing to buy from abroad, the time is nigh to pick the top five transfers from the bizarre summer of 2020.

Many may have expected a curbed spending prior to the window given the financial landscape and without the prospect of full stadiums on the horizon, although top flight clubs still spent in excess of £1 billion – remarkable.

Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

The Welsh star has returned to the place that first brought him to the attention of the world in Tottenham Hotspur having spent a strange last 18 months in Madrid.

Bale, who is now 31 years old left north London for Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 for a reported £85.3 million fee and enjoy a largely successful spell, including multiple La Liga and Champions League successes. Most of which the athletic forward was an integral part of.

However the last two seasons in particular have seen the Welshman take up a watching brief, perhaps owing to injury and a fallout with the powers that be.

Bale has now resigned for Spurs on loan and despite not playing since his return due to injury, fans across the land will be excited to see the man who was once heralded as amongst the world’s elite playing football again.

Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool

Perhaps the most talked about move of the summer finally came to fruition as defending Premier League champions spent just over £20 million to land their man from Bayern Munich.

The Spaniard has only made one fleeting second half appearance against Chelsea thus far, having since tested positive for Covid-19.

However that 45 minutes and his previous form is enough to convince Reds fans and many others the 29 year old will add plenty of quality to an already packed Liverpool midfield.

The multiple trophy winner has an eye for a pass and dictates plenty of matches and will perhaps provide additional threat to the best team in the land.

James Rodriguez – Everton

Another who hasn’t played a massive amount of football in recent times, however the Columbian forward has certainly hit the ground running in an Everton shirt as the Blues have got off to the perfect start in the Premier League.

The 2012 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner has been in dazzling form since his arrival and linking back up with Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Having signed from Real Madrid with plenty of pedigree, the 29 year old has certainly delivered up to now. With sterner tests to come including the Merseyside derby after the international break – Everton fans will be praying long may it continue.

Thomas Partey – Arsenal

A deadline day arrival at the Emirates after the Gunners had toyed with the idea of the move for some weeks.

Eventually Arsenal met the release clause for the midfielder after much conjecture and perhaps looking at other targets including Houssem Aouar and Jorginho from Chelsea.

The 27 year old arrived on a £45 million deal from Atletico Madrid after suffering a disappointing time in the Spanish capital. Partey is a combative midfielder with lots of ability, who impressed across the two legs in the Champions League quarter finals last season against Liverpool.

Arsenal fans will be looking forward to seeing their new man in action after the international break.

Kai Havertz – Chelsea

The biggest monetary move in the window, Chelsea who were extra busy this summer in terms of incomings, confirmed the signing of one of the hottest properties in European football from Bayer Leverkusen.

Havertz signed for a deal rising up to £71 million and has enjoyed a reasonable start to life in the Premier League without setting the world alight.

The Blues, and Frank Lampard will want and perhaps expect more from the 21 year old, but given time it is extremely likely the Germany international will deliver.

Honourable Mentions

Diogo Jota’s move from Wolves to Liverpool adds additional strength in depth for the champions.

Manchester United landed superstar Edison Cavani on a free on the final day of the window, the Uruguayan has lots of experience and has certainly delivered at the top level.

Domestic Opportunities

Whilst the option to sign from foreign clubs has now ended, Premier League clubs can still sign players from within the UK and there are plenty of possibilities.

Said Benrahma of Brentford is perhaps the most likely to make a move to the top flight, with Crystal Palace and plenty of others reportedly interested in the Algerian forward.

Huddersfield Town striker Karlan Grant is another who has attracted top flight interest.

Premier League clubs would be wise to realistically consider Championship players with the likes of Eberchi Eze and Ollie Watkins both making the step up this term, with success.