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Three talking points as Wayne Rooney earned Everton a point against Liverpool

Rob Meech

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Everton forward Wayne Rooney scored a dramatic equaliser to deny Liverpool victory in the Merseyside derby. The 32-year-old emphatically dispatched a 77th-minute penalty after Dejan Lovren had been penalised for a push on Dominic Calvert-Lewin. In truth, it was a soft spot-kick to concede and one that gave the Toffees a golden opportunity to claim a point they barely deserved.

It had been a backs-to-the-wall job in the first half as Liverpool monopolised the ball and they broke the deadlock shortly before half-time through Mohamed Salah’s delicious curling strike. But Everton defended well and were gifted a lifeline when Lovren inexplicably bundled over Calvert-Lewin, one which Rooney grabbed.

The Toffees stay 10th in the Premier League table, six places behind Liverpool. Here are three talking points from a hard-fought clash at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s selection gamble backfires

To say eyebrows were raised when Liverpool’s starting XI was announced would be an understatement. Jurgen Klopp made no fewer than six changes from the side that hammered Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. But the biggest talking-point was the exclusion of Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino; while Dominic Solanke led the line ahead of a midfield that included Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson.

When Salah scored a typically wonderful goal to put the Reds in charge, it looked as though the manager’s changes would be vindicated. But Liverpool were unable to score a crucial second goal and that came back to haunt them when Rooney slammed home a penalty in the latter stages.

Coutinho was introduced immediately after the equaliser but did not have a significant impact as the spoils were shared. Despite Everton’s good start under Sam Allardyce, this was two points dropped for Liverpool and questions will be asked about Klopp’s line-up.

Classy Rooney at the heart of Everton’s creativity

Making his first appearance in a Merseyside derby since 2004, Rooney could not have dreamt of making a bigger impact. He played on the right side of a narrow midfield four, which was designed to frustrate and stifle Liverpool’s attacking talent. Allardyce’s tactics worked to a certain extent, even though the Reds did take the lead late on in the first period.

Having fulfilled a largely defensive role, Rooney was able to drive the Toffees forward as they chased a leveller, with raking cross-field balls switching defence to attack. It was once such aerial pass that resulted in the visitors’ goal. Although Calvert-Lewin went over easily, Lovren should have been streetwise enough not to give the young Everton striker the opportunity to go down.

Rooney has an excellent record from the spot and it was no surprise to see him convert past Simon Mignolet for his eighth top-flight goal of the season. His exuberant celebrations demonstrated just how much the goal meant to him, as Everton’s renaissance continued.

Salah continues his goalscoring run

Despite the surprise selections in Liverpool’s team, stopping the Premier League’s most in-form player would have been at the forefront of Allardyce’s game-plan. Everton’s defenders gave Salah very little room to express himself from the first whistle, but they were powerless to prevent him from opening the scoring.

It is not the first time this season that Liverpool supporters have seen the Egyptian bend the ball into the top corner, and it’s fair to assume it won’t be the last. Salah had freed himself from the attention of Idrissa Gueye inside the penalty area and his magic wand of a left foot did the rest.

It was his 13th Premier League goal of the campaign – and 19th in total – which restored him to to the top of the Golden Boot standings ahead of Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. Unfortunately for the Reds, it wasn’t enough for them to capture all three points.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Everton

A Marco Silva reunion at Everton is exactly what goal-shy Richarlison needs

The Brazilian has struggled for form since Everton-linked Marco Silva left the Hornets.

Max Cohen

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Photo: Getty Images

Marco Silva has been heavily linked with the vacant Everton managerial job this week and, according to reports in the Daily Mail, the ex-Watford boss is set to hold further talks with the club in the coming days.

As a result of the Silva connections, Paddy Power’s odds suggest Everton are now the front runners to sign Watford winger Richarlison this summer.

The move could prove to be an ingenious way to revive Richarlison’s early-season brilliance under the manager who coaxed the best out of the mercurial Brazilian.

Both Richarlison and Silva enjoyed superb form when the two were together in the opening months of the 2017/18 campaign, and a reunion at Goodison Park would result in success.

The Portuguese manager steered the Hornets to an impressive start to the season that saw the club suffer just one defeat in their first eight league matches.

The Brazilian winger also hit the ground running at Vicarage Road, notching five goals and contributing three assists in his opening 12 Premier League matches.

However, the tide turned in the final months of 2017, as Richarlison scored his last league goal in November, and Silva won just one of his last 11 league matches before being sacked in January.

Richarlison clearly thrived under the management of Silva, and after the Portuguese departed the club, the winger scored and assisted a grand total of zero goals. But at only 21 years of age, the youngster has time on his side and is still adapting to English football.

Everton would do well to reconnect Marco Silva with Richarlison, and if the manager can get the best out of the Brazilian, the Toffees would attain the services of a top-class attacking talent who has many productive years in front of him.

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Henry Onyekuru has a real battle to rectify Everton career

Everton snapped up the Nigerian last summer, but he has had a tough 2018 so far.

Mathew Coull

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Last summer Everton made plenty of new signings. The club invested heavily in the first-team squad, with the likes of Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford and Gylfi Sigurdsson all expensive recruits for Farhad Moshiri to empty his pockets for.

Another new signing was that of Nigerian talent Henry Onyekuru. The attacker had just scored 24 goals in 41 games for KAS Eupen the season previously and had plenty of teams chasing his signature.

Everton eventually won the race, paying a fee reported to be in the region of £7 million by the BBC.

He was immediately loaned out to Anderlecht, as he did not have the credentials to earn a work permit to play in the UK.

The hope for Everton was that Onyekuru would thrive at the Belgian giants. He would then go to the World Cup with Nigeria and receive his work permit as a consequence.

That has not proved to be the case. At first, it appeared the plan was working. Onyekuru scored nine goals in 26 appearances in the first half of the season, mostly playing from the left-wing. However, in December, he suffered a serious knee injury that left him out of action until April.

Now, Onyekuru risks become a forgotten man at Everton.

The injury scuppered his chances of playing for Nigeria this summer. Despite his return in April, Anderlecht were reluctant to play him and he no longer wants to stay in Brussels on a similar loan spell next season as a consequence.

His lack of first-team action saw the Super Eagles omit him from the World Cup squad.

(Photo credit should read ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Without a UK work permit, he is set to find another loan club next season, with Borussia Monchengladbach linked by HLN.

Everton now have an entirely new structure to the one that first brought Onyekuru to the club and the Nigerian will need to produce some real quality next season to remain on the club’s radar.

He also needs to win back a place in the Nigeria squad, or Everton will never get the accreditation needed for him to play for the club.

This season has turned out to be a disaster for the £7m Everton newbie and it is not ridiculous to think he is now struggling to ever make an impact at Goodison Park.

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Everton should offer Crystal Palace former player Yannick Bolasie to get Wilfried Zaha

Everton are keen on signing the Ivory Coast winger.

Mathew Coull

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Everton have today been linked with a move for Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha. The Ivory Coast international has been in fine form for the Eagles this season, scoring nine and assisting five goals in 29 appearances, and is being targeted by a host of clubs in the Premier League.

The Sun is now suggesting that Everton’s main managerial target Marco Silva wants the winger to be his main man and the club are putting together a £60 million deal.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

It is, however, a tough field in terms of transfer opposition. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are also keen on the player this summer. For Everton to get their hands on the player they will need to do something a little different and offering Palace a ready-made replacement could be the best option.

The player in question is Yannick Bolasie. If Everton want Zaha, then offering the DR Congo winger back to his former club might give them the edge over their competition.

Bolasie joined Everton in 2016 for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £25 million. After a promising start to his career on Merseyside, a knee ligament injury saw him out of action for over a year. Since his return to action, the 28-year-old has struggled to find any good form, frustrating players with his inconsistent performances.

Many value the fact Bolasie can occasionally produce some magic. But if Zaha is around, he will be doing so on a more consistent basis.

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Offering him back to Palace would give the Eagles a ready-made replacement who knows the club. It would also help Zaha in his decision to leave Selhurst Park in good hands, as he clearly cares for his boyhood club.

There is also a school of thought that Bolasie’s presence at Goodison Park could help convince Zaha to come and play for the Toffees, given the pairs good relationship.

Either way, it is clear the £25 million star could play a pivotal role in Everton ensuring they are the ones to get their hands on Zaha this summer.

Fans will certainly hope that is the case, as Zaha would be a major signal of intent from Everton ahead of a new era at the club.

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