Thoughts turn today to Kenny Dalglish's last involvement in a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. That was, of course, the famous 4-4 draw in the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1991. Less than 48 hours after the final whistle, Kenny was gone, the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster finally taking its terrible toll. His departure signalled the end of an era for Liverpool. Everton, too, were on their way down from the heights of the 1980s, during which the pair had taken turns to be the best team in the land. That seems a long time ago now, as Louise Taylor reports.
But while the glory days have gone, the Merseyside derby has continued to deliver, the most consistently entertaining stramash in English football. Goals, red cards, thundering challenges, last-minute winners, outrageous tackles, penalties, kicks, stamps, slaps, fistfights, refereeing controversies, goalkeeping calamities, simulations of decadent nights hoovering up the jazz salt: there's usually something for everyone.
Today's brouhaha begins at: 12.45pm.
Louis Saha makes his first start of the season for Everton, who relegate captain Phil Neville to the bench: Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Coleman,
Fellaini, Rodwell, Osman, Cahill, Saha.
Subs: Mucha, Bilyaletdinov, Drenthe, Stracqualursi, Neville, Barkley, Vellios.
Liverpool drop Jordan Henderson for the first time in the league this season: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Kuyt, Lucas, Adam, Downing, Suarez, Carroll.
Subs: Doni, Gerrard, Henderson, Coates, Spearing, Flanagan, Bellamy.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
While we wait: Why not take a trip down memory lane with this week's Merseyside-derby-related Joy of Six?
There's a rare old atmosphere in this famous old stadium as the teams trot out:
Not everyone's anticipating a good time, though. "Hoping Liverpool thrash Everton and Moyes resigns (at last)," writes the chirpy Martin Alastair Cooke. "And I follow Everton but do not support the current regime. Moyes and Kenwright OUT OUT OUT."
And we're off! Everton get the 216th Merseyside derby underway. Suarez takes a long ball down well, then feeds the ball out wide left to Downing, who is immediately checked illegally by the oft-clumsy Hibbert. Liverpool try to work a clever free kick into the area, but don't do a very good job of it. A bright start by the Reds, though.
3 min: "Completely unrelated to anything particularly football-esque, but I was wondering who is that fine specimen of a player with the luxurious afro currently blinding my dazzled eyes on your frontpage?" asks Rhea Libert. "Clearly I am not an Everton supporter, but I may have just found the love of my life. Assistance in naming him would be greatly appreciated." That'll be Marouane Fellaini, Rhea, happy to send a little happiness and romance into this big, cruel world. And your man has just seen a shot deflected wide right of goal from the edge of the Liverpool box, after a spot of head tennis. The resulting corner by Baines is well claimed by Reina.
5 min: It's high-tempo nonsense at the moment, Suarez trying unsuccessfully to zip past Coleman down the left, Rodwell attempting much the same down the other flank for Everton. Nothing's coming off yet.
7 min: Suarez toe-pokes a ball out left to Downing, who has space to move forward towards the box. Suarez has peeled off into the centre, screaming for an instant return. Downing tries to find his team-mate, but his low cross carries too much weight and evades Suarez. That was nearly a beautifully worked goal, Everton prized open with a sudden pop.
9 min: Jagielka gets himself into all sorts of bother, slicing a clearance down the Liverpool left, level with his six-yard box. Kuyt picks up the loose ball on the byline. He dinks a cross to the far post, where Suarez heads straight at Howard. What a chance!
10 min: Everton go straight down the other end, Coleman swinging a ball into the area from the right to the far post, where Cahill tries to guide a looping header over Reina and into the top-right corner. Reina tips over the bar. After a couple of corners, Distin makes himself a bit of room in the right-hand corner of the box and attempts to curl a shot into the top left, but gets a wee bit too much on it. Lovely footwork from the defender, though. This is a really nice, bright, open start to the game, both teams seemingly in the mood to attack.
14 min: Saha, cutting inside from the right, hits a gorgeous left-footed fizzer towards the bottom-left corner. Reina would have been beaten, but the clever shot doesn't quite curl back in and sails out of play past the far post. "Sorry Martin Alastair Cooke, but Moyes AND Kenwright out out out?" bubbles Sean Boiling. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Pick one or the other. My suggestion, ditch Bill, keep Dave."
17 min: A couple of corners to Everton down the left. Another period of head tennis. Coleman has a whack from the edge of the area, but the ball's charged down. Carroll hacks clear, lumping the ball into the stand down the left, much to the amusement of the home crowd, who refer to the big man's price tag in song. "I can only imagine Martin Alastair Cooke wants a return to the pre-Moyes glory days of the Walker-Royle-Smith era," begins Michael West, "when winning games was of inferior importance to whether Duncan Ferguson was able to manage an hour's walk around a football pitch or not. And Brett Angell. And Marc Hottiger. And Preki."
20 min: After a bright start, Liverpool aren't putting many passes together. Kelly tries to get something moving down the right, but once he nears the byline, shanks his cross straight into the crowd behind.
23 min: RED CARD!!! Jack Rodwell is sent packing for a challenge on Luis Suarez. He went in studs up with his left boot, the tackle a wee bit clumsy, but though he clipped Suarez - who goes down in great pain - it really didn't look that out of control or dangerous. A yellow wouldn't have been an outrage, especially as the game's been played in a good spirit so far. Rodwell is beside himself with rage, and looks like he's going to refuse to leave the field. Luckily for him, Adam is also beside the two Rodwells, and ushers the young man off the pitch before he can get in the referee's face.
27 min: Cahill is booked for a high studs-up clip on Adam. The Goodison crowd are incandescent. Incidentally, upon departing, Rodwell hoofed a bottle down the tunnel with mighty force. He's not a happy lad. "Even Fellaini has female admirers?" splutters Morten Nutzein. "I'm going to put on my best tie and shoes, shave my face and hit Oslo once Liverpool win!" You talk about the tie and shoes as though they're a matching set. Are they matching tie and shoes?
30 min: Liverpool are pinning Everton back at the moment, though not causing the home side any great problems near the goal. Suarez is, as you'd imagine for his part in the sending off, getting pelters from the Everton faithful. "Bill Kenwright may invite criticism but I'd rather him than an oligarch, a sheikh or a American looking to expand their sports brand business," writes Gary Naylor. "Sure it means that we don't challenge for the big trophies, but at least the club feels like ours. And that'll do for me."
33 min: Kelly slides a ball towards Suarez, who races into the area down the inside-right channel and lashes a shot into the side netting from a tight angle. "In the rush to praise Suarez's many qualities, I would suggest that the less appealing side of his approach has been ignored, and that was a prime example," writes David Hopkins. "Did he really need to go down in that fashion after Rodwell's challenge?" It's fair to say he went down very easily, but a player exaggerating an injury is hardly news; the fault here is surely with the referee, who obviously thought Rodwell went in with both feet off the ground, but was sorely mistaken.
37 min: Everton can't get anything going up front. Liverpool keep coming back at them. Hunky Fellaini slides in on Lucas, flipping him into the air 25 yards from goal, just to the right of the D. Adam hits the free kick straight into the wall, then Carroll steps on the ball and falls over. Oh dear. Anyway, that red card. "One of the worst decisions you'll see all season and has spoilt what was shaping up to be a good game," sighs Robin Ashford, who is not far wrong.
40 min: "You're not fit to referee," holler the Goodison crowd. Everton, to a man, aren't in a good place. Baines lofts a long free kick to Fellaini down the right. The ball clearly bounces out of play for a goal kick, but Fellaini gives the linesman a mouthful anyway. You can understand Everton's frustration, but they need to calm down for their own good. Meanwhile here's a Prophecy Warning from Joe Pearson of Indianapolis: "A red card coming for Liverpool in the second half. As we call it over here: make-up call. Maybe you call it that over there, too?"
43 min: PENALTY FOR LIVERPOOL! Suarez, his back to goal in the left-hand corner of the Everton box, is upended by Jagielka, who comes straight through him. That was a perfectly good decision, a very clumsy challenge. The fact that it's Suarez who's gone down has, obviously, not gone down terribly well with the home fans.
44 min: PENALTY MISSED! Kuyt looks to sidefoot into the bottom-right corner. Howard goes the right way and palms round the post. Brilliant save! Although a very poor penalty kick, nowhere near the corner and very weak indeed.
45 min: Liverpool hit the crossbar! Adam picks the ball up down the inside-left channel, and unleashes a screamer towards the top-right corner. The ball batters off the woodwork, down and out! What a shot. Howard was stretching at full length, and still got nowhere near it. "No, Suarez didn't have to go down like that, but it's not like the Everton players haven't been acting theatrical after Liverpool challenges, because they have," counters Andrew Lavender. "It's not Suarez's fault Martin Atkinson is a rubbish referee."
HALF TIME: Everton 0-0 Liverpool Well, that was really cooking up towards the end of the half. Everton will be glad to hear the whistle, allowing them some time to regroup. Liverpool will go in frustrated, having missed a penalty and unluckily hit the bar. But then they've not unjustly had a man sent off, so it's swings and roundabouts. As for Morten Nutzein's matching tie and shoes set: "My favourite tie is made of red wool and obviously I always wear red socks because I am a Liverpool supporter. However my best tie is resting at my dry cleaner because I threw up on it on my birthday."
HALF-TIME ADVERTISING BREAK (starring Everton's greatest-ever supporter):
"Ah, Melissa, darling..."
More on the Rodwell incident: Having seen it again a few times now, two more points. First, Rodwell got to the ball, poking it out of the way, and by the time he made contact with Suarez his studs were no longer showing. It was never a red card in a million years, and probably not even a foul. As for Suarez: he went down under the challenge looking for the free kick, yes, but didn't do a great deal of rolling around: he had barely fallen onto his back before Martin Atkinson hoved into view waving the red card. The striker had little or no influence on it whatsoever. You might not agree with his tendency to hit the floor, but to concentrate on that would be to miss the point: this one's all down to the referee's interpretation of the challenge, which was simply incorrect. Here's a nice suggestion, though, from Simon Frank: "Wouldn't it be nice if the fouled player could rescind the red card? Last time I checked, professional sport was still sport, that is, a recreational activity for pleasure. As in, 'be a good sport'. Football must be a great game if we still watch it in spite of all the cheating and faking and lying that goes on."
And we're off again! This could be a very interesting 45 minutes. No changes. "Superb penalty save from Tim Howard but why is he dressed like one of Public Enemy's dancers?" asks Doctor Alimantado, of the camouflaged Everton goalkeeper. "Fear of a Scouse Planet?"
47 min: Kelly cuts inside from the right and hits a very weak low effort towards Howard, who collects without fuss. "As far as I'm concerned, a player has the right to make as much or as little of a foul - and it was a foul - as he wants," writes Michael Wood. "It's not up to Suarez what decision the referee makes, if Atkinson is weak enough to act upon Suarez's reaction rather than the tackle, then it's the officiating that is the problem. The whole issue of players trying to 'get a fellow professional sent off' is futile. These guys want to win and good luck to them."
49 min: Carroll has done bugger all so far. Liverpool slide a couple of pretty triangles together down the left, but as soon as Suarez slips the ball to his strike partner, the move breaks down as he miscontrols. "The thing about those Cinzano ads was that they boosted sales of Martini no end," writes Chris Barraclough. "People loved the ads but went out and bought the wrong brand."
50 min: Lucas is booked for sliding in late on Saha, who was looking to advance into space towards the Liverpool area. Ironic cheers? You want 'em, Goodison's got 'em.
52 min: Everton haven't come out just to make up the numbers (which they can't do anyway). From the right, Fellaini slips the ball to Saha by the D, who screws a low shot wide right. A decent effort under pressure from the Liverpool defence. "Maybe the camo is to lure Liverpool into thinking Tim Howard is really small (in this case just a floating head) and so they don't really have to shoot all that hard to score," suggests David Flynn. "It certainly seems to have fooled Kuyt."
53 min: Corner for Liverpool down the right. It's sent to the far post, where Carroll heads powerfully goalwards from ten yards. It's a very decent effort towards the bottom right, but Saha gets in the way to block with a flying lunge. Excellent play all round.
54 min: Carroll gets his head on another corner, not so strongly this time. It's bundled out of play. Howard claims the resulting set piece to ease the pressure on Everton. "Simon Frank is perhaps confused," suggests Justin Horton. "A 'recreational activity for pleasure' is by no means a sport, even though it may be a game (though it may not). Moreover there's a very strong case for saying that the point at which such games become 'sport', though, is the point at which 'pleasure' ceases to be the most important thing about them. People might say 'be a good sport': but they don't say 'it's only a sport'. Sport is where it gets serious."
57 min: Lucas has a swish from 30 yards. It flies about 30 yards wide right. "This match, over the years, has been brutal in terms of thuggery and cards," suggests Alistair Elder. "Clearly the Old Firm have to up their game. Alas another case of the EPL leaving the SPL behind."
59 min: A change for Everton: Coleman is replaced by Drenthe. Meanwhile here's more from our man about Oslo town, our MBM playboy, Morten Nutzein: "This game has cheered me up. I was out at Restaurant Eik last night and I fell down in the toilet because the floor was wet with piss. I am not having a good weekend."
61 min: A blistering shot from 30 yards by Saha, the ball flying only just wide left of Reina's goal. The keeper goes ballistic at his defence, who allowed the striker all the time in the world to turn.
63 min: Everton are beginning to believe they can get something from this game. Cahill brushes Jose Enrique off the ball and bombs down the right. He hits a long ball to Saha, who makes a right pest of himself, Skrtel and Carragher needing to pair up to ensure he doesn't win possession in the Liverpool area. "In fairness to Martin Atkinson, he was just evening the game up," argues Niall Mullen. "Blue ten against red ten (and Carroll). At least Everton's absentee can't get in the way."
66 min: Liverpool are beginning to get frustrated, pumping long balls up to Suarez, so they make a double change: Downing and Adam off, Bellamy and Gerrard on. Meanwhile here's Simon Frank coming straight back at Justin Horton: "Call me an epicurian then. Right, I'm off to drink some Pouilly-Fuissé and watch Brazil 1982."
69 min: Gerrard's first act is to swing a free kick into the Everton area from deep position on the right. Suarez gets his head to it at the far post, eight yards out, but can't keep his effort down.
70 min: A second change for the home side: Osman is replaced by Neville.
71 min: Hibbert crosses into the six-yard box from the right. Saha is exceptionally close to winning a header, but Carragher heads clear. Chris 'Scratch' Thomson would like to continue with the Public Enemy theme, if one email can be classified as such: "I don't know if if 911 is still a joke but in Liverpool's case 9 is a joke."
72 min: GOAL!!! Everton 0-1 Liverpool. A £35m joke? Not so much now. Bellamy tears down the left, reaches the byline, and pulls the ball back into the centre. Kuyt dives under it, aware that Carroll is standing behind him, six yards out and unmarked. He skelps a low shot straight into the bottom-right corner. He couldn't miss, but you could sense a lot of frustration put into that.
73 min: Everton come straight back at Liverpool, Saha getting a shot on target from the inside-right position, 25 yards out. But Reina is behind it all the way, and holds it to his chest.
76 min: From a central position 30 yards out, Gerrard teases a cross towards Carroll at the left-hand post. Howard comes out to claw the ball behind for a corner. The resulting set piece is a complete waste of everyone's time. Morten Nutzein, who may or may not be a fictional character whose antics are based on the nocturnal jaunts of today's goalscorer, is back: "I must stress that that was not my piss but someone else's. I fell and I sat in it but Eik is a great restaurant usually. Jesus am I tired. A girl rang to say I am cool so thanks!"
78 min: Suarez finds Bellamy in acres of space down the left, but with both Suarez and Kuyt waiting in the centre, Bellamy's resulting cross goes straight down the throat of Howard. "Saying that the players have the right to simulate and the referees should cope is akin to saying that fraud is only fraud if you get caught," argues Gary Naylor. "That's the kind of amoral spiral that leaves everyone a loser and the honest person the biggest loser of all."
79 min: Everton take their last throw of the dice: Hibbert is replaced by Vellios.
82 min: GOAL!!! Everton 0-2 Liverpool. A lot of passing from Liverpool. Eventually a ball's slid down the inside-right channel for Suarez, who makes it into the area but is dispossessed by Baines. Distin goes to clear, but hits his clearance straight into the chest of the nearby Suarez, who immediately slips the ball under Howard from a tight angle and races off in celebration. He puts defenders in a terrible panic, does Suarez; this isn't the first time his presence has encouraged defenders to self-destruct this season - see also Arsenal away - and it probably won't be the last.
85 min: Baines has a thrash from 25 yards out, the ball sailing wide left. Goodison's rage has fizzled out into a benign acceptance.
87 min: Carroll attempts an overhead kick. Best left, that. He gets up and bundles Howard into the net as the keeper punches a high ball out for a corner. No free kick, surprisingly.
88 min: Before the corner, Lucas is replaced by Henderson. Bellamy takes the set piece, finding Gerrard on the edge of the area. He guides a shot towards the top-right corner, but Jagielka deflects wide. The second corner causes a small kerfuffle, but nothing more.
90 min: There will be three added minutes of this. Applause for Doctor Alimantado, who has just sent in an email referring to Carroll as "the Matalan Ibra".
90 min +1: Drenthe has a rake from distance, but Reina is behind it all the way.
90 min +2: Suarez takes a quick corner on the left, sending Kuyt clear along the byline. He pokes an effort past Howard, only to see it clatter off the left-hand post. Everton don't deserve a three-goal belting, not after the Rodwell Incident.
FULL TIME: Everton 0-2 Liverpool. And that's that. To a chorus of boos, referee Martin Atkinson blows his whistle. A controversial match, but then few aren't these days. The final word to Rhea Libert, who nimbly pulls together all the hot issues in this MBM: "Ah, Morten Nutzein. How can you be so blind to the majestic awesome of that hairdo? Although I applaud your red tie and shoes, as it is my favourite colour, I fear dreadfully for your aesthetic tastes. As for the redcard fiasco, clearly the referee was seeing a different dimension of reality than the rest of us. Crappy decisions, unfortunately, are par for the course in very many sports."