Barkley poor, as Everton switch off late vs. rivals Liverpool
The jarring inevitability of this result did little to ease the pain when it finally arrived. Scorers of late goals in four of their last five league games Everton found roles reversed as Liverpool won a scrappy 227th Merseyside derby 1-0 thanks to Sadio Mane's injury-time goal.
From victory against Arsenal to obligatory derby disappointment in the space of six days, the lack of consistency and reliable quality in this Everton team stood out as Liverpool consigned their neighbours to a 12th successive winless derby. Everton have won two of the last 20 league derbies.
If the manner and timing of the defeat felt harsh, there could be few complaints as the home side reverted to their usual derby non-performance once a bright start faded. Only the visitors looked like winning when the fourth official flashed up eight minutes of injury time at the end of the second half.
Everton restricted a previously free-scoring Liverpool for the most part albeit sometimes more through luck than judgement. It was only when legs tired and the hosts sat back and conceded the initiative that the away side began to take control. A lively start from those in blue forced mistakes and pressure but fizzled out too soon.
While a driven display without the ball helped secure three points against Arsenal, it distracted from ongoing shortcomings in possession. As work rate dipped in this match those attacking concerns resurfaced. James McCarthy's injury disrupted the team but was not the reason this match was lost.
Everton had to wait 75 minutes for their first and only shot on target. This is a team lacking in creativity and any discernible plan of attack. Once again, beyond a succession of aimless long balls in the general direction of an isolated and disappointing Romelu Lukaku, there was too little fluency, movement or composure. This direct style creates more problems than it solves and cannot continue.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Koeman has to find a viable attacking approach as his team offered precious little once their pressing ground to a halt.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Maarten Stekelenburg, 7 -- Excellent save from Roberto Firmino was his only real involvement before an accidental collision with Leighton Baines saw the Everton No.1 forced off injured.
DF Seamus Coleman, 7 -- Pushed forward in the first half and looked the most likely threat in attack. This was a solid all-around display from a player showing some of the much-needed leadership lacking among his teammates.
DF Ashley Williams, 6 -- Barely put a foot wrong and kept in-form Divock Origi quiet until a momentary lapse at the death when the centre-back was caught ball watching as Daniel Sturridge's effort rebounded off the post for Mane's goal.
DF Ramiro Funes Mori, 6 -- Normally strong in the air, so will be disappointed at the free header he planted wide from a Ross Barkley corner in the first half. Defended well in general but another perhaps slow to react in the build-up to the Liverpool goal.
DF Leighton Baines, 7 -- The experienced full-back kept busy throughout as the visitors pushed forward down the flanks. One excellent piece of defending denied Mane but injured his own goalkeeper in the process.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 8 -- Most Everton matches seem to end with praise for Gueye. If more players matched his overall approach, it is likely the Blues would not be amid a run of two wins in their last 12 league games.
MF James McCarthy, 7 -- Set the pace in the early stages and thrives in these types of games. Injury meant a change in tact in his absence and Everton were worse for it.
MF Ross Barkley, 5 -- Says plenty about a midfielder in the team for his supposed ability in possession that the only noteworthy incident was a wayward tackle on Jordan Henderson fortunate not to receive a red card. Poor display.
MF Aaron Lennon, 6 -- Threatened infrequently but did not see the ball enough to leave a lasting impression on the match. Spent more time going backwards but carried out his defensive duties with minimal fuss.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 5 -- In these games where he is starved of service all Lukaku can do is try to make an impression without the ball, but his failure to do so allowed the Liverpool defenders too much time and space in possession.
FW Enner Valencia, 5 -- Full of running in the early stages but looked very much a player in an unfamiliar position by the time he was substituted. Among those guilty of surrendering possession too easily.
MF Gareth Barry, 5 -- Pace of the game disrupted his usual composure. On at half time for the injured McCarthy, the midfield veteran surrendered possession cheaply and struggled without the ball.
GK Joel Robles, 5 -- Made a fine save earlier on but was slow to react to the effort leading to Liverpool's late goal.
MF Dominic Calvert-Lewin, N/R -- Koeman bravely (or perhaps foolishly) opted to throw the youngster on but the move backfired and the young forward was generally anonymous in a midfield role.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.