John Gibbons: Everton will be having nightmares thinking about Van Dijk

There’s no question who the dominant team on Merseyside is heading into the derby and John Gibbons believes Everton will be scared of Virgil van Dijk…


Earlier in the week for my Paddy Power column I wrote that Liverpool needed to stop relying so heavily on the Firmino/Salah/Mane trio for goals. That more players needed to come to the party if Liverpool were going to stay at the top of the Premier League.

So, I guess the question is how much credit do I get for Liverpool’s resounding 5-0 victory on Wednesday night?

Well, probably very little, truth be told. It was very welcome though. Salah didn’t score and Firmino didn’t even play.

Instead, there was a goal from a backup forward, two goals from a centre half, with Virgil Van Djik tripling his goals for the season in one night, and a scintillating performance from Sadio Mané as a makeshift number nine.

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It was everything we needed, and more. Mané, part Les Ferdinand-part Faustino Asprilla, leading the line brilliantly, winning headers one minute and providing gorgeous flicks the next. Origi on the left adding quality to his industry and scoring a fine goal, which will do him no harm at all. Mo Salah terrorising full backs like the glory days of a few months ago.

In midfield, we were excellent too. James Milner set the tone early on, charging down the ‘keeper like a rugby player pressuring the kick. Wjinaldum was good too, but it was Fabinho who really stood out.

He absolutely bossed the centre of the park. Statistically, he led the way for Liverpool in both tackles and interceptions. One challenge on Deulofeu sent the Spaniard hurtling towards the Kop and then looking towards his bench as if to say “do I really have to play against this fella?”

It should be noted that it was another clean sheet too. Incredibly our 23rd in the last 35 home league games. You have to work really hard to score against this Liverpool side.

Which all sets us up really nicely for the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Everton won in mid-week as well, ending a run of three consecutive defeats in the Premier League, so they will be feeling a bit better about life too. Just not quite as good about life as the top of the table reads.

Still, back into the top half of the table for the Blues, so well done on that. But, you would imagine Liverpool will be a bit of a tougher test than Cardiff City were.

The sight of Virgil Van Djik nodding in crosses from full backs is likely to particularly distress Evertonians. Liverpool have scored more goals from set pieces than any other team in the Premier League this season, whilst Everton have conceded the most.

The zonal marking system that Marco Silva has tried to introduce has been a bit of a disaster for Everton all season and The Reds look perfectly set to capitalise on it. Or they can just pass it to one of the boss, fast lads up front and let them terrorise them instead. Nice to have options isn’t it.

Last year at Goodison the two sides played out a borefest because Liverpool had sights on Champions League glory and Everton had Sam Allardyce. But generally, Liverpool’s record at Goodison Park is very good.

In fact Everton haven’t beaten Liverpool at Goodison, Anfield or Wembley since 2010 in the dark days of Roy Hodgson. One way of looking at this is that Everton are due a result. Another is that they’re usually not as good as Liverpool. This year they certainly aren’t, there are 33 points between the sides in the table. If Liverpool win on Sunday, they’ll have twice as many points this season.

Liverpool’s performance on Wednesday should give them great confidence going into the game. So should the gulf between the teams and their excellent record in the fixture.

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