Steve Gerrard: Everton are like Stoke, all they do is play the ball long

We were only team in derby trying to play, says Liverpool captain, but stats suggest otherwise

Hanging from the away section in Sunday's Merseyside derby was a banner bearing the message "Solidarity has no colours", recalling Everton's recent tribute to the Hillsborough families' fight for justice.

Any sense of fellowship stopped there, however, and another controversy-tinged match concluded with the Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, not just bemoaning the refereeing decision that cost Luis Suarez an injury-time winning goal but also accusing Everton of playing like Stoke City.

Suarez may have usurped Gerrard as public enemy No 1 among the blue half of Merseyside, but Liverpool's captain did his bit to reclaim his old status after Sunday's 2-2 draw when he said: "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.

"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."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers suggested something similar when explaining how Everton's "long, direct pressure" had prompted his decision to send on a third centre-back, the 6ft 5in Sebastian Coates, at half-time. Yet that does not tell the whole story.

Any team with Leighton Baines' set-piece delivery and Marouane Fellaini's height will carry an aerial threat and will also concede a fair few free-kicks – Everton have committed more fouls than any team in this season's Premier League – but on Sunday the home side's best player was actually the diminutive Leon Osman. Moreover, their biggest attacking threat came down the left side through Kevin Mirallas – at least until Suarez stamped on his foot and he had to withdraw injured.

Indeed, a statistical breakdown of the match shows that Everton 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 Mirallas or Baines. They also had more possession, more chances and committed fewer fouls.

Gerrard was on more solid ground when praising Liverpool's Raheem Sterling, who shone in his first derby match at 17. Even in the final minute, he was jinking through the Everton defence and setting up a last-gasp chance for Suarez. Had he shown more composure earlier in the match he would have capped his performance with a goal when clean through, and Gerrard said: "I thought Sterling was fantastic. He has been a revelation for us. To be 17 years of age away in a derby in a cauldron in an atmosphere like this against a big, physical long-ball team, I thought he was outstanding."

Gerrard also had a dig at Phil Neville for the slow-motion first-half dive that earned him a booking. "If David Moyes is a real man and a real manager, which I think he is, then he will be speaking to Phil Neville about it," he said. As it turns out, both Neville and Moyes had already expressed regret – something yet to be heard from Liverpool on the subject of Suarez's diving.

Dubious derby claim: 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%

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy