Jurgen Klopp and Roberto Martinez’s differing fortunes, Liverpool’s options up front, and John Stones’ woes all feature in Rob Conlon’s talking points from Everton’s 4-0 Merseyside derby defeat.
Managers encapsulate clubs’ differing moods
Quite simply, Jurgen Klopp can do no wrong at Liverpool at the moment. The atmosphere currently surrounding Anfield is incomparable to the start of the campaign.
Even when the Reds were inconsistent during the early stages of the German’s tenure, supporters appeared content that they could see an obvious philosophy being implemented.
Liverpool are now third in the Premier League form table and have scored more goals (34) than any other team in 2016.
In contrast, things can hardly be going any worse for Roberto Martinez. The Everton faithful have lost all confidence in the Spaniard, and Wednesday night’s display suggested some of the players have as well.
While Klopp was pictured laughing in the dugout towards the end of the match, Martinez appeared shell-shocked and seems to have no answer to his side’s constant defensive woes. Judging from the evidence of the rest of his career, he is unlikely to find one.
A failure to win a Merseyside derby cost Brendan Rodgers his job earlier this season, unless Everton somehow manage to win the FA Cup, this result is likely to have sealed Martinez’s fate too.
Origi sets standard Sturridge needs to match
Despite being billed as Liverpool’s saviour while he was out injured, now he is fit, Sturridge is no longer the star striker at Liverpool.
Klopp has shown a huge amount of faith in making Divock Origi his first-choice striker, and the Belgian is more than repaying his manager.
Origi offers a brilliant blend of pace and power. While the 21-year-old shows plenty of willing to do the unselfish work and run the channels, he also has an eye for goal, and now has five in as many games.
However, after Origi had to be stretchered off the field following a terrible challenge from Ramiro Funes Mori, Sturridge is now likely to be given a chance to prove he can still be top dog at Anfield.
His attempts to claim Philippe Coutinho’s strike may be ambitious, but his cool finish for Liverpool’s third took his tally to 50 goals in 87 appearances for the club – a superb return.
Speaking ahead of the derby, Klopp insisted he would not use Sturridge “as an orange” and squeeze all the juice out of the forward, but he may not have a choice now. Thankfully for him, the England international is looking pretty juicy.
Stones needs out of Everton
Everton were applauded for their stance in not allowing themselves to be bullied by one of the Premier League’s elite into selling one of their prized assets last summer, and so they should have been.
But supporters must now be wondering whether the club should have taken the vast amount of money offered by Chelsea for John Stones.
The centre-back is undoubtedly a talented player but has gone backwards this term and his confidence must now be shot.
Stones is currently suffering from Martinez’s insistence that his defenders prioritise playing attractive football ahead of actually defending, and while he is hardly being helped by such a ramshackle partner as Funes Mori, he has to take the blame for Liverpool’s third after his slack pass was punished.
Despite his struggles, there will be further interest in Stones this summer. Even if Everton do change their manager, the 21-year-old would be doing himself no harm in leaving to be coached by Pep Guardiola or Antonio Conte.
Coutinho remains the jewel in Liverpool’s crown
In a week when Manuel Pellegrini labelled Sergio Aguero as the best player in the Premier League, Philippe Coutinho proved that on his day he deserves to be put in the same bracket with a masterful display against the Toffees.
One of a number of players, alongside the likes of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, who are starting to discover consistency under Klopp, the Brazilian caused Everton constant problems, and was a joy to watch.
During the early stages of the first half – when Everton were still making a game of things – the 23-year-old showed an impressive maturity in dropping deeper to play a couple of delightful passes which created openings for Adam Lallana.
Coutinho ended the match having made both the second most amount of passes and key passes for the Reds, but the highlight of his performance was his excellent finish for the fourth goal. It will be a travesty if the strike is awarded to the centimetre of Sturridge’s shorts the ball brushed on the way in.
Reds’ England contingent will have caught Hodgson’s eye
Stones and Leighton Baines will have failed to instill much confidence in Roy Hodgson ahead of Euro 2016, but the England manager will have taken plenty of encouragement from the performances of Liverpool’s Three Lions representatives.
With Jordan Henderson a doubt for the tournament, the much-maligned James Milner is likely to be a crucial figure in France this summer.
Disciplined and experienced, the midfielder’s energy will allow Hodgson’s team to press with intensity, while he also proved he can provide quality on the ball by laying on crosses for Liverpool’s opening two goals. In fact, no player in the Premier League has produced more assists than Milner’s 11 in 2016.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Sturridge came on with a point to prove and looked sharp, Nathaniel Clyne marauded forward from right-back, while Lallana is now so much more involved in everything the Reds do well.