It was a weekend full of impressive games, but most of all, fierce rivalries. There was West London in Chelsea-Fulham, North London in Tottenham-Arsenal and also the derby of the capital in Lazio-Rome. However, none of those reached the amplitude and the implications brought upon by two of the fiercest rivalry in the sport. A third edition of El Clasico within a few weeks, and a Merseyside derby that was extremely telling.
It was the better match out of the two and it was indeed separated by a really small margin. Ivan Rakitic was able to seize a quick counter opportunity to be the difference of the match. He was eerily efficient against Real Madrid as well for a person who does not score a lot of goals.
This Real Madrid team lacked coherence and the change of managers and departure of Ronaldo did not help their cause. A player like Isco should not be in and out of the lineup with his quality. Playing out at the wings should not be his ideal position as well. Marco Asensio has only been featured sporadically while lacking a focus on his positioning. Personnel problems continues to plague Real and those two young Spanish starlets are the poster child for this.
The other issue is definitely the imbalance in the winger positions. Vinicius Junior was one of the bright spots for the Real offense but there is only so much he can do when the club lacked balance. He looked threatening a number of times against Sergi Roberto and his aptness in both cutting in and bursting down the wing and that was all Real had to show for in this match. However, that also highlighted the problem Real had on the right side. Bale looked like a shell of himself and Real really shied away from using him as a threat on the right side. Lucas Vasquez is industrious, but he does not really provide solution to the problem. It would be a long road for real to fine tune everything post-Ronaldo and after a managerial change.
It was not visually pleasing as soccer and that was a fair conclusion. The score ended at a 0-0 draw with some decent opportunities and half chances and that was it. Everton put in a valiant effort in defense, but Liverpool had to be remorseful of missing chances as well. It was more of a lesson for Liverpool, though.
I seldom agree with what Jose Mourinho said, but he put it right on the point this time round. Liverpool should not have let Man United slip in the last match toward the end as they were content for the point at Old Trafford. You simply cannot let a team like Man City control the race. Now Liverpool had slipped to second with a slew of draws and losses after Christmas, where they once hold a 10-plus point lead.
Another problem lies on their personnel. It is indeed a fact that the Reds are plagued with injury, but as a top-tier club, there should be adequate replacements for every spot ideally. Playing Henderson and Fabinho in the midfield is way too defensive against Everton. The glaring weakness was definitely the Firmino problem. He plays the False Nine position to perfection and the offense could not work without him. Liverpool was rendered to only relying heavy on counter attacks and that was not what Klopp wants.