My optimism upon arriving at Goodison even gave me a surprise. I mentioned in the build-up that I saw a 1-1 on the cards. A credible draw. A ground out point and one that would see us go unbeaten for our 4th consecutive game. My gut feeling told me we'd steal it. I was quietly confident we'd leave Liverpool with three more points than we'd started with and prepared my ears for pleasant renditions of 'Glory Glory' upon returning to London.
We were butter in the first half. Everton calved us open time and time again. Dempsey struggled to track Coleman's onslaught of our left with Vertonghen's early ball watching not doing the defence much good. Lloris was also forced to come to the rescue and, once more, highlighted in yellow ink why his name is rightly found in the first 11.
We survived a slightly edgy first half and, in all, a rather poor game of football; our fans still half asleep after what I can only think was an early wake up call Sunday morning. Dembele and Sandro battled well in midfield with the creative spark evidently lacking and Adebayor failing to be as influential as we know he can. This lead to Defoe often being marked out the game or forcing himself to come wide to get involved. The movement was shambolic. No one filled in for anyone else. It was obvious Thursday night had well and truly caught up with us.
So what happens?
We fluke a goal. From nothing. Dempsey's enjoyed more luck in the side of late. He's one of the few in which his work ethic vastly goes un-noted. We remember the negative and not the positives of the American. Maybe I'm digging for excuses, but I do feel as he grows more and more into our side his membership in the team - and squad especially - will become more affluent. In all honesty we didn't really look like conceding. Everton knocked a few balls into the box as they had done for large periods of the game but we had a handle on everything. We swept everything up and left no dust in our path.
Then we changed it. Players started to look tired and fatigued. I didn't have many complaints about those coming on, it was more those going off I questioned. The introduction of Falque, in theory, would've been a lively player late on in a game which could've proven a handful. As the opposition tire and look to push for an equaliser, a quality ball through could've finished it off for us. What I struggled to justify was the withdrawl of Defoe. In fairness he'd struggled to get into the game, but he's the sort that just needs a yard and he'll hit the target. He presses the last man and gives the opposition defender reason to keep checking their shoulder for him. Withdrawing him and leaving Adebayor to continue to drop deep allowed for Everton to press.
We get nervy and anxious when we sit. Top sides continue to push for a second. Attack being the best form of defence and all that. Put the pressure back onto the opposition and don't allow them to pick passes. We play a lottery every time we sit off. We hope we have enough to win every header, make every tackle and clear at every opportunity.
It's gutting that errors allowed for the equaliser. But we're still learning as a team, and as individuals. We will learn from this, in the long run. We'll highlight the need to press and grab games by the scruff of the neck when we're ahead. Leaders are key in these instances. Kaboul and Parker are two that can calm a side in key areas of the pitch.
Our issue is addressing the final 10 minutes of games. Arguably, the Europa League has affected us here but we'll learn, and there's no doubt it isn't top of AVB's agenda.