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
  • Get to the point
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

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world