Everton must build on derby effort

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Andre Gomes of Everton and Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on March 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Andre Gomes of Everton and Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on March 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /
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Everton put in a strong, determined performance in Sunday’s derby as they held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park. So can they build on this game and carry this effort into the last quarter of the season?

After the derby the themes that came out of the game was the huge impact of the Everton crowd and the effort and work rate the players showed.

One of the problems that seems to have plagued the Blues this season is the lack of passion and commitment that has sometimes seemed absent from the team, and let’s be honest from the fans too.

After a decent first quarter of the season, the Toffees’ form fell away badly and it has only just been, temporarily, arrested by two solid efforts at Cardiff and in the derby.

Is that issue the result of a general lack of commitment from modern footballers, or is it just a product of short-term inconsistencies in form?

This is a difficult question to answer.

To some extent perhaps there is an issue with whether players in the Premier League today do show the level of commitment and passion for the club’s they play for that others in the past did.

There do seem to be more and more matches that lack the fizz and commitment of the past. And of course players are today paid extraordinary amounts of money. Has this dulled their desire when playing football?

Most of these players today are from overseas and inevitably they are not born and bred in English football with strong links to any English clubs. Although that doesn’t mean that games will lack passion and commitment.

Probably the best recent derby, in terms of quality and excitement anyway, was back in 2013 when the teams played out a breathless 3-3 draw at Goodison Park. The great majority of players on show that afternoon certainly weren’t English.

But it’s undeniable that Merseyside derbies have become increasingly anaemic in recent years. Go back even ten years or so and these matches were probably the most hotly contested games in the Premier League.

In recent years though they have become strangely muted and underwhelming affairs. That’s reflected in the lack of goals in recent derbies.

In fact there has only been three goals scored in the last four league derbies. Last season’s Anfield game ended 1-1 and this season’s a 1-0 home win, while both the last two Goodison matches have ended goalless.

Before I get too far down the rabbit hole of past derby games analysis, the point I’m trying to make is that the Premier League is it seems, becoming a tamer and less combustible league.

Anyway what does this have to do with Everton’s season?

The modern emphasis on more technical football has, without doubt, been a huge benefit to English football. It has led to better standards of individual skill and therefore higher quality team play too.  And the recent dominance of sides like Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, only underline this.

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But traditionally one of the great traits and strengths of English football was the level of physical commitment and work rate.

There seems to be a danger of this dying out.

However especially when you are struggling for your best form or lack the technical quality to match your opponent in purely footballing terms, that physical effort and commitment to close down and harass your opponent can make a significant difference.

Everton underlined that with their performance on Sunday. With just a few weeks to go before the end of the season, can the Blues maintain that effort and finish as high as possible in the Premier League?