Steven Gerrard scored the first hat-trick in a Merseyside derby since Ian Rush’s three goal performance for Liverpool in 1986. Gerrard celebrated his 400th Premier League appearance for the club in the best way possible, leading the Reds to a 3-0 win over Everton and possibly opening up a window of opportunity and hope for a successful finish to a disappointing season.
For Liverpool fans, it was the first time they saw the club win, at Anfield, in league action, since 2012 began. After three straight league defeats, stretched out over more than a month due to Liverpool’s cup obligations, it’s been simply too long since these fans saw a meaningful win at home.
Liverpool have failed to beat any of the big clubs at home this season – A draw against Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham. A recent loss to Arsenal, and Chelsea still waiting for a visit in early May. The away form, at least in terms of wins, has been more impressive, although Liverpool do often play well at home, just don’t capitalize on more than enough chances.
Yesterday, it was Gerrard at his best. Not behind the strikers, but roaming free in the middle of the pitch. No signs of age, no signs of any injuries disturbing him. Just perfectly positioned each time to finish from the edge of the box while Everton players were scrambling to handle Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, in their best combined effort since joining forces last season, despite not scoring any goals.
Gerrard’s presence helped Suarez remain higher up the field and not waste time and energy by trying to build up attacks on his own. Carroll was aggressive, accurate and timed his elevations perfectly. Liverpool had the right balance between crosses to Carroll and balls on the ground. Luis Suarez has the assists to Gerrard’s last couple of goals written on his name, including a brilliant dribble in the final third.
Is this the real Liverpool? Somewhat, when the potential hits. Without Charlie Adam, things looked much better, finally, and Dalglish would be wise to keep the Scottish international on the bench. Jay Spearing has no offensive qualities what so ever, but like Martin Kelly as right back, he makes up for it with his commitment and effort, which hardly appear when Adam plays. Jordan Henderson is still lacking in confidence or any clue as to what to do on the pitch, but it’s better than Kuyt at the moment.
Liverpool won’t manage a top four finish, but did stop Everton and David Moyes leapfrogging them in the table, keeping Everton winless at Anfield since September 1999, a day Gerrard was sent off on. A double over Everton, like in the 2009-2010, is always excellent news, after not recording a win against the Toffees last season, a first since 1999-2000.
Liverpool already have their Europa League spot, but making an impressive run as the season winds down, finally letting loose and scoring some goals (12th in the league with 33 goals, 1.17 a game), and most importantly, with a big touch of hope, having Steven Gerrard completely healthy for more than a weekend or two.