Liverpool boss makes a bold move
"We did it because we can do it," said Jurgen Klopp. It was shortly before kick-off at Anfield and the Liverpool manager had been asked to explain his team selection.
A Merseyside derby seemed a strange time to make five changes to his starting line-up, but Klopp was right.
Despite resting Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool were able to put five goals past Everton and they could have had more.
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Divock Origi scored two of them. Xherdan Shaqiri, another of the stand-ins, got one of the others.
The emphatic 5-2 victory is likely to spell the end for Marco Silva at Everton.
For Liverpool, it maintains an eight-point lead at the top of the table and extends their unbeaten run to 32 league games. It is the longest in the club's 127-year history. This side is setting new standards and it doesn't seem to matter who Klopp selects.
Origi's role in the victory probably shouldn't have come as much of a surprise.
After all, it was in this fixture last season - a year ago almost to the day - that the Belgian emerged from the bench to score the unlikeliest of winners and rescue a Liverpool career that seemed as good as over.
Since then, he has scored crucial goals against Barcelona and Tottenham in the Champions League, as well as another late winner against Newcastle in the Premier League. Origi has a habit of rising to the big occasions and it can also be seen in his Merseyside derby scoring record. His five goals in the fixture put him ahead of Michael Owen, Duncan Ferguson and Luis Suarez.
His latest efforts were brilliantly taken. For his first, he latched onto Sadio Mane's though-ball, touching it past Jordan Pickford with his right foot then sliding it into the empty net with his left. For his second, he cushioned a long ball from Dejan Lovren then lifted his finish high into the net.
This clinical display of finishing will reinforce his status as a cult hero at Anfield - it is no mean feat to ensure two members of Liverpool's front three are not missed - but it was not just about his goals. Origi ran the channels selflessly and worked tirelessly until his substitution in the second half.
Everton will be pleased to see the back of him for now - although the FA Cup third-round draw ensures it will not be long until this two sides meet again - while Klopp will approach Liverpool's packed December schedule knowing Origi is ready when called upon.
Origi's inclusion was unexpected but not as much as that of Shaqiri.
The Swiss international had not started a single game all season. He had not started a Premier League game since January. It seemed he had fallen out of favour with Klopp at times last season, but on this evidence he could yet become an important part of his plans again.
Silva on the brink at Everton
His goal was the culmination of a slick Liverpool move which started with an inch-perfect cross-field pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold to Sadio Mane. The Senegalese then darted inside, spotted his teammate's clever diagonal run and Shaqiri did the rest, flicking an angled finish past Pickford.
It was his first goal in almost a year and set the tone for a fine performance. Shaqiri offered plenty of industry without the ball but it was in possession of it that he was most impressive. There were dangerous crosses, incisive dribbles and plenty of pace and purpose on the counter-attack.
Of course, Klopp's task is made considerably easier by having a player like Mane in such devastating form.
Indeed, it was a testament to his growing importance to this Liverpool side that it was him, rather than Salah or Firmino, who kept his place in the team for this game.
Mane's pass for Origi's opener was outstanding and it was with another through-ball that he created Liverpool's second. He now has four assists in the Premier League this season - three more than he managed in the whole of the last campaign. He is creating more chances per 90 minutes than in any of his previous five seasons in the Premier League.
What's just as impressive is that as well as providing more for his teammates, Mane is still scoring with as much regularity as ever. His goal showed him at his best, starting the move deep in his own half then sprinting almost the length of the pitch to meet Alexander-Arnold's pass with an emphatic first-time finish.
Mane has now scored nine Premier League goals this season and the only complaint can be that he didn't add more. Twice in the closing stages, his speed and movement put him through on goal, only for him to spurn the opportunities. They were uncharacteristic misses, but Mane had already done more than enough.
This story originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission.