Most years, a draw at Goodison Park is considered a decent result for Liverpool. Derbies are different, after all. Just because the red half of Merseyside boasts the better team, it doesn’t mean the blue half capitulate.
True, it is now 19 games in this fixture with an Everton win – the longest run in Mersey derby history – but that doesn’t mean Liverpool come away with three points every time. Their last six visits here have produced five draws – and usually that’s fine.
Not this time. This is a head-to-head title race and results have to be matched. Manchester City won this weekend, Liverpool did not. Now they trail by a point, two taking inferior goal difference into account.
It’s not the end of the world. Plenty of games left, plenty of swing potential, not least a Manchester derby - but the advantage is now with Pep Guardiola’s men, and every red slip from here is potentially calamitous.
It was a helter skelter of a match but not, as the scoreline suggests, a great one. The defences were the best of it. Virgil van Dijk stunning for Liverpool, Everton ferocious in shutting out Liverpool’s three-pronged attacking line.
Michael Keane made a quite brilliant tackle to deny Fabinho in the second-half, Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a header from a corner well saved by Alisson. If this doesn’t sound much in the way of action, that’s about right. There was lots of noise, plenty of fury, but not much in the way of goal threat.
At the end, the stalemate was greeted like Everton’s first win since 2010. Liverpool may see it that way, too.
This was like one of those old school Merseyside derbies in that it was built up to an extreme level of anticipation and could probably only disappoint.
So there was lots of blood and thunder, plenty of huff and puff but little or real quality to define it. Jordan Pickford in the Everton goal found touch from his kicks so often it was as if he was auditioning for a place in Eddie Jones’ Rugby World Cup squad. Mo Salah had the best chance of the first-half, and missed it.