[ENT] Everton proved they can rival Liverpool this season with derby display

If Jordan Pickford happened to fall into the River Mersey on his way home, he would probably have been wearing your suit.

Whatever his choice of lottery numbers, get on them.

Pickford is a player who will be sending VAR a hamper at Christmas.

Make no mistake, the England keeper got away with one here. Got away with two here, in fact.

The wiping-out of Virgil van Dijk and the feeble attempt to keep out what Jordan Henderson thought was a late match-winner were deemed irrelevant by VAR.

A marginal offside against Van Dijk and then Sadio Mane in the build-up to Henderson’s half-hit somehow got Pickford off the hook.

Pickford made some exceptional saves but made two huge errors

Those incidents, by the way, book-ended a goalkeeping performance that also included a showreel of top-class saves.

That is what you get from Pickford. Feast and famine.

With his hotheadedness, rashness and loudness, the goalkeeper is almost becoming a caricature of himself.

Quite what the country’s foremost official was thinking when he allowed Pickford to escape unpunished for his assault on Van Dijk is anybody’s guess.

Presumably, Michael Oliver believed the offside flag swept aside any guilt and that is a refereeing error of inexcusable proportions.

And how come VAR checked the offside but not the Pickford lunge?

Offside or not offside, it was violent conduct, simple as that.

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Van Dijk may face a lengthy spell on the sidelines

Even if the offside negates the serious foul play, surely the referee still has the discretion to sanction violent conduct?

Long after the game, there still seemed to be some confusion over the regulations.

But if the law did prevent a red card, then the law is an ass.

When Van Dijk went to the Portakabin early, Liverpool were already a goal to the good courtesy of Sadio Mane’s strike but the centre-half’s absence was felt.

Jurgen Klopp would certainly have fancied Van Dijk to pick up Michael Keane when the Everton defender met James’ cross for the first equaliser.

Even with Van Dijk, there has been an unusual vulnerability about this Liverpool defence.

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They have now conceded 13 goals this season and, while they were narrowly the better side perhaps, you sensed Everton always fancied their chances.

Rodriguez’s wand of a left foot caused the Reds all kinds of problems

And you always fancy Everton’s chances when James is on the field.

He is at the heart of everything they do well.

Th Colombian is straight into the top ten of most cultured left foots in the English top flight ever.

Older readers, think Liam Brady.

Keep James fit and on the field and Ancelotti’s team will always create opportunities.

He was involved in the sweeping move – I think they call it a pre-assist nowadays – that ended with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s point-earning header.

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It was a leap that is becoming Calvert-Lewin’s trademark, the type of header that is becoming his calling card.

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It was quintessential Big Dunc.

Just as Mohamed Salah’s strike that had given Liverpool the lead for a second time had been, well, quintessential Salah.

In the emptiness of Goodison Park, it sounded like the crack of a whip.

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Back-lift minimal, caught flush with the meat of his instep, even if you had wanted to, you could not have blamed Pickford.

You could have certainly blamed him had Henderson’s late effort, which came after Richarlison had been shown a straight red for a lunge on the wonderful Thiago, stood.

Calvert-Lewin has scored 10 goals this season

And Carlo Ancelotti has a decision to make. But for his saves in between the aberrations, Ancelotti will probably stick with the England keeper.

And if he can minimise his blood rushes, Everton can be serious contenders this season.

While Liverpool probably thought they deserved a win, this was a game that showcased two very talented teams.

We knew all about Liverpool but with James pulling the strings and Allan dousing fires, this is a vastly-improved Everton.

And if Pickford can keep VAR on his side, they should not be far away from their city rivals come the end of the season.

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