3 Positives Liverpool Can Take from Derby Draw with Everton
In a Merseyside derby that had just about everything, there were a number of positives that Liverpool can take away from their visit to Goodison Park, despite failing to take all three points.
Firstly there is the tempo at which they began the game.
Brendan Rodgers set his side up to attack their rivals from the offset and were rewarded for their bright start when Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring after just five minutes.
Despite looking bright early on, a lack of concentration was evident as the Reds allowed Kevin Mirallas to force home an equaliser only three minutes later when he drifted in unnoticed at the back post.
The seemingly unstoppable Luis Suarez put his side back in front with a perfectly taken free-kick, meaning the Reds went in at half time with a 2-1 advantage.
However, it seemed that for everything Liverpool were doing that was good, something equally bad would follow.
Step forward Joe Allen who missed the easiest of chances that surely would have put the contest out of Everton's reach.
Everton pounced on the Welshmen's howler, turning the game in their favour in the space of 10 minutes to lead 3-2.
Liverpool would however hit back again to leave with a share of the spoils.
The Reds' bright start and the individual brilliance of Suarez aside, this article will analyse—in this writer's opinion—the three main positives that Liverpool, Rodgers and Liverpool fans can take from their trip to their near neighbours.
The Performance of Simon Mignolet
Despite conceding three goals at the home of his side's nearest rivals, Simon Mignolet was arguably Liverpool's standout performer.
Although Romelu Lukaku managed to twice get the better of the Reds goalkeeper, he was denied time and time again during the opening 70 minutes.
Mignolet was without doubt the busier of the two goalkeepers but further enhanced his growing reputation as one of the Premier League's finest shot-stoppers.
One save in particular from the aforementioned Lukaku after 64 minutes drew comparisons to the great Peter Schmeichel as Mignolet charged down the onrushing striker, spread himself starfish style and again came out on top.
Liverpool's star man left Goodison Park having made a total of nine saves over the 90 minutes (via EPL Index), and not one of them routine.
Mignolet had big boots to fill upon replacing Pepe Reina as Liverpool's first choice goalkeeper and although the new man's distribution is probably not of Reina's standard, his awareness and shot-stopping is second to none.
Saturday was not the first time the Belgian has kept his side in with a chance of winning or drawing a game this season.
New "Never Beaten" Attitude
Under Kenny Dalglish (second time around), Liverpool at times lacked belief.
If they struggled to break teams down in the first 30 minutes or fell behind early then heads went down and confidence appeared to drain in an instant.
Under Brendan Rodgers things appear to have changed.
It would have been easy for the players' heads to drop and for them to simply throw in the towel after Everton went 3-2 up with only eight minutes remaining, but instead, to a man they stood up and battled to the death.
The Reds appear to have found a new "never know when we're beaten" belief and this without doubt was apparent during the closing stages at Goodison Park.
You could see what it meant to the players and staff, but settling for a point does not appear to be the Rodgers way.
With five minutes of time added on, Liverpool and in particular Luis Suarez went in search of a winner that unfortunately wouldn't come.
The Uruguayan arrowed a left-footed drive towards the near post that Everton keeper Tim Howard managed to get a hand to and keep out.
Liverpool inevitably ran out of time just as Everton appeared to be theirs for the taking.
Despite only leaving with a point the spirit and belief shown by the players was refreshing for fans to see and long may it continue.
The Performance of Jon Flanagan
It more than likely came as a surprise to most Liverpool fans when Jon Flanagan was named in the starting lineup for the first Merseyside derby of the season.
The young Scouser appeared somewhat out of his depth when he was thrust into the side away at Arsenal in early November, although in his defence he was making his first start since the 2011/12 season.
If anyone was expecting a similar story on Saturday, then they were in for a surprise.
Flanagan—probably pipped as Liverpool's star man by Simon Mignolet—was outstanding.
He was as good going forward as he was in defence, and tasked with the job of marking Kevin Mirallas, Flanagan let nobody down.
Played out of position at left-back, the youngster showed that he has the ability to man-mark, tackle, block and even spring an attack when in possession.
If there were any nerves or fear inside of Flanagan, then they were never on show.
Flanagan has already earned the praise of Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher while captain Steven Gerrard told Sky Sports that the defender was given a round of applause by the Liverpool side upon entering the dressing room at full-time.
The full-back has had to work hard to impress Brendan Rodgers. After featuring frequently under Kenny Dalglish chances under Rodgers have been hard to come by with the likes of Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly and even Kolo Toure for competition.
Despite Flanagan's heroics, a loan move in January has been mooted (via Sky Sports) and with fierce competition for a place in the Reds' back four at the moment, a temporary move may be of substantial benefit.
If the 20-year-old does find himself out of the side in the coming weeks and does seek a temporary move in January he can do so with a ringing endorsement from Gerrard who described his performance as "one of the best derby performances I have ever seen" (via Liverpool Echo).
It seems as though Reds fans have been waiting an age for the next Gerrard or Carragher to come though the ranks and establish themselves in the first team.
Although Flanagan has not stamped his authority on the side in the way that Gerrard did, it is always nice for fans to see a local lad being given a chance and even more pleasing to see them take it.
Do you agree that Flanagan's performance was the highlight of Liverpool's 3-3 draw at Everton, or do you feel others also stood out?
As always leave your comments and opinions below.