Liverpool stop the rot, but are helped by Jordan Pickford’s latest Anfield blunder

Jordan Pickford hasn’t been a favorite of Liverpool supporters since the moment he clattered against Virgil van Dijk’s knee, but he might be due for a few thank-you cards after his most recent Merseyside Derby clanger.

The England international knows better than most when it comes to producing moments of madness against Everton’s greatest rivals and it was his decision-making – or lack thereof – that ultimately gave the hosts a crucial breakthrough at Anfield and eventually a 2 awarded -0 victory.

Mohamed Salah might also be tempted to send his own card; If anyone needed an open gate, it was the Egyptians. Salah has been surpassed by Wout Fae’s own goals in the league since the World Cup before tonight and didn’t even seem able to remember how to shoot, let alone do it with consistency or accuracy.

His touch was often heavy or unsteady for the first half hour, his dribbling attempts were unconvincing – as in so many games in recent times – and his only real shooting opportunity seemed to see him trying to go down and play a pass instead.

And then he scored and everything changed – for Salah and maybe for Liverpool too.

A long-overdue performance was just as important as the win itself here, but alongside the confusion in midfield and absentees at the back, the complete absence of last year’s Golden Boot winner game after game was the biggest problem ahead of Jurgen Klopp.

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Watching Salah drive away jubilantly was a small victory; To see him then carve out more openings, almost score a second goal and be heavily involved in building that crucial second goal could end up being far bigger.

Everton barely put a glove on Liverpool, in truth, on a night when gloves – and hats, scarves and everything else – were definitely needed.

But even the lack of a consistent threat almost saw Liverpool concede their first goal again; After a dominant half-hour it was Everton who hit the post that set off the move that ended with Salah ending a run of six league games without a goal. Salah was involved in the counterattack at the other end of the field after that set piece, helping marauding Darwin Nunez land the ball – and then breaking a gut to get into the attacking box.

Pickford, who was presumably just eyeing Cody Gakpo, fired to the left edge of his box, leaving the goal completely empty for Salah to intervene with the right foot after Nunez’s excellent cross and score a right foot shot. Roughly 15 seconds between a potential sucker-punch style, which isn’t your typical moment of negativity, and a euphoric release at the other end of the emotional spectrum.

After the game, Toffees manager Sean Dyche called it a “misinterpretation” of the situation by his goalkeeper; The Kop’s late game singing of Divock Origi’s name was a reminder that it was a far cry from Pickford’s first at Anfield.

(Getty Images)

Gakpo himself scored the crucial second just after half-time but it was again Salah who proved crucial in the build-up, finding Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right flank from the low cross to the far post where the Dutchman waited.

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Later, Salah might have notched his braces twice. A run-in from the right saw him thwarted, then Stefan Bajcetic – brilliant and comfortable again that night, Liverpool’s best player – charged forward after capturing the ball and fed Salah to a shot. The pass lacked a little speed, which caused the shot to be faked up.

But even without a second goal Salah was dangerous, Salah was involved, Salah was again the channel for his team’s attacking game.

Just as a goal can’t mean Salah is back at his best, a single win isn’t enough to reverse Liverpool’s dismal season overall – but it can be used as a starting point.

Another reason for the initial optimism is the comebacks of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino from injury, while Virgil van Dijk also failed to come on. The rot has been halted, at least temporarily; Now, any remaining hopes for European football next season – and perhaps even this season, with a draw against Real Madrid fast approaching – are turning to something Liverpool have lacked all year: consistency.


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