Frank Lampard may have no idea what he's doing as a manager, or he may be dealing with the biggest collection of mismatched pieces, but he's aware of the story. It was eight years ago, almost to the day, that Lampard's Chelsea showed up at Anfield to snuff out a title-seeking Liverpool. In Jose Mourinho fashion, Chelsea parked the bus, the team charter and maybe a space shuttle in front of their goal, started wasting time from kick-off forever taking free-kicks and the goal kicks, and was bitchy and pissed off in a way you don't see outside of an upscale cafe. It worked wonders, as Steven Gerrard fell on his ass just before half-time and Liverpool's title dreams were right next to him on the pitch.
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So that's what Lampard instructed his Everton side to do today when they showed up at Anfield. The bank of 10 just outside their penalty area at the end of April dressed in blue certainly caused disturbing flashbacks for Liverpool supporters (or at least this one). Not only was the bus firmly parked, but the antics were settled until 11. Everton players dove all over the place, waited ages for free-kicks and turned any small dispute into a full-on Lincoln- Douglas in front of a clearly overwhelmed referee Stuart Atwell.
The performance that moved the Anfield crowd the most was that of Jordan Pickford who, every time he got his hands on the ball, fell to the ground to grab it in the style only seen in the last minutes of a game with a team clinging to a thin leash, or someone turned off their controller. It certainly didn't belong in the 11th minute of a 0-0 game. Here's a great example:
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But while that 2014 Chelsea squad was still populated with great players and Mourinho was still in his window of success (at the very end, as it turned out), this Everton squad is still filled with wayward kids. . So their resistance faded in the second half, around the time Everton's legendary killer (and one of the weirdest cult heroes Divock Origi) came into action. Andy Robertson headed home to complete a move created by Origi and Mo Salah, then Origi wrapped up the points himself with his own header five minutes from time.
The ultimate thumb in the eye towards an opponent whose only hope of getting anything out of a game with their biggest, most homegrown rival was to go as low as possible tactically, and still not really close. So much so that the Liverpool goalkeeper could crack a joke at the end of the game, the epitome of 'good try, kid'.