What a difference a day makes—well, three in this instance.
Within the first couple of minutes those inside Anfield could see Liverpool had the bit between their teeth—they had the desire and passion to right the wrongs of the past weeks.
Prior to kick off, Baines and Pienaar had been touted as a potential game-winning left-side combination, but Martin Kelly dealt with both easily.
In fact, the young defender has to give thanks to Adidas who provided him with big enough shorts to pocket both players.
If it wasn’t for a Steven Gerrard hat-trick, then Kelly would have easily scooped the Man of the Match award, exceptionally unlucky not to be on the score sheet himself (twice). The young defender now must be a serious contender for the permanent right-back position.
The midfield pairing of Spearing and Gerrard looked comfortable at all times.
Spearing’s defensive qualities and crisp passing allowed Gerrard to penetrate into the Everton half at will, something which has been lacking when the latter has been paired with Charlie Adam this season.
Special praise must be given to Andy Carroll, who had his best game in a red shirt tonight.
Carroll showed the level of desire needed to be the Liverpool number nine, putting himself around the field, winning almost all the aerial battles he contested and holding the ball up well, supplying Suarez at every opportunity.
Carroll looked hungry, going close in the second half as he tried to bend the ball with the outside of his boot into the right hand corner of the Kop-end net.
More impressively though was his evident desire to win.
Late on, Everton had a free kick just inside the Liverpool half and Carroll sprinted back to the Liverpool defensive line, winning the header and clearing the danger.
Luis Suarez, free of the shackles of being the only playmaker on the field, looked relaxed and played with a style that has been missing of late.
His interlinking play with Carroll looked sharp as did that with Gerrard, selfishly setting up the captain’s third goal when faced with a goal scoring opportunity himself.
Suarez terrorised the Everton left all evening, weaving and cutting inside. He gave the kind of performance Liverpool fans came to expect before his nine-game enforced break.
Finally we come to Steven Gerrard who tonight personified everything about his "Mr Liverpool" mantra.
Pre-match, the talk was of improving the standard of play and how performances of late hadn’t been of the Liverpool calibre,
Gerrard not only talked a good game—tonight he played a good game.
He was in the right place at the right time for the opening two goals. The first was a delectable loft into an unguarded Everton net; the second a power blaster after some excellent work by Suarez on the right.
He was rewarded with his hat-trick after pressurising the Everton midfield into a slip. His one-touch pass to Suarez allowed the Uruguayan to charge at the Everton defence before casually releasing the ball to the waiting Gerrard to fire into the roof of the net.
Kenny Dalglish may still not yet know his strongest 11, but on tonight’s performance he must be 99 percent of the way there.
The Anfield faithful can now only pray that this Liverpool side turns up on Sunday to bring a second Wembley date in as many months.
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