Actually, Everton don't play like Stoke - Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard backtracks after stats prove him wrong

 

In the aftermath of the Merseyside derby, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard hit out at his opponents with a criticism which went just about as low as it is possible to go in football.

Gerrard accused Everton of playing like Stoke - a team which would likely come last if football fans were asked to rate teams from the most glamorous to the most 'effective'.

Gerrard said following the 2-2 draw on Sunday: "There was only one team who came into the derby trying to play football. Everton are effective because they have some big physical lads in the team and are very direct. They are effective. But the only team who tried to play football was us."

He went on: "I thought we stood up to a team that are very similar to Stoke. Every single time they get the ball at the goalkeeper it comes in long."

It was that last line which caused the biggest stir. No team wants to be similar to Stoke, a side that turned the throw-in into an offensive weapon. And it would seem Gerrard agrees his comments overstepped the mark. The Liverpool captain has moved to clarify his comments, saying they were made in the heat of the moment and he meant no disrespect.

"Just to clarify I've watched the game again, and I've seen some of Everton's matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things (diving allegations) that have been said about Luis in recent weeks which haven't been fair in my opinion.

"As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out.

"But it wasn't my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn't intend any disrespect to their manager or players.

"I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.

"My main issue was with the goal that wasn't given and that Liverpool did not get the three points I felt we deserved in what was a fantastic derby match."

The apology of sorts from Gerrard followed clear evidence that the facts didn't back up his claims about the Toffees.

Statisticians pointed out after the match that Everton had managed 359 accurate passes to Liverpool's 257 and produced twice as many crosses (34 to 17), most of them low, driven balls from the left by Kevin Mirallas or Leighton Baines. They also had more possession, more chances and committed fewer fouls.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers also made reference to Everton's perceived direct style before the derby, claiming they were a side that "smashed the ball up to two tall strikers". But he has also become more conciliatory.

"Analytically, if you look at Everton and a number of other teams they are more direct and play off the front players," he said.

"But they (Everton) have players of finesse, players like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman who are terrific footballers.

"There would be a difference in relation to the style (compared with Liverpool) but ultimately for teams it is about performing and getting that winning formula."

 

Sunday's Merseyside derby statistics

Everton Liverpool

17 Fouls committed 19

0 Headed goals 1

47 Long passes attempted 47

19 Long passes completed 21

100 Passes in final third 63

34 Total crosses 17

57% Possession 43%

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