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Everton - Football: Everton lose ground after baffling derby display

Everton now face a real battle to preserve their Premier League status after going down 2-0 to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby - a performance that raised a lot of questions about their tactical setup.

Second-half goals from Andy Robertson and Divock Origi were enough for the Reds to keep themselves on the coattails of Manchester City as they compete for the Premier League title.

At present, there is a world of difference between the two Merseyside rivals as Everton's game plan drew fierce criticism after the contest.

Currently they are 10/11 to be relegated, which would mean their first season outside of the top flight since 1954.

Plan to frustrate backfires

Frank Lampard's game plan was very clear - slow the pace of the game, frustrate Liverpool and try and nick a point.

It was never going to be pretty but results are the only thing that matter to Everton at this stage of the season.

However, looking at the way they played throughout the contest, it is almost unarguable that they took time-wasting too far.

Jordan Pickford took an age over his goal kicks while Everton left Anfield seething with succession after succession of cheap free-kicks and niggly fouls.

Ultimately, the statistics at the end of the game painted a stark picture - the Toffees only managed 18% possession and mustered only one shot on target.

Opening the game up and trying to match Liverpool would have been suicidal, but there was a real wave of disappointment in the way Everton approached the game with so little will to play football and win.

It means they have only six more chances to avoid Championship football for next season.

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Tough run awaits

What won't help Everton's mood is the toughness of their fixtures coming up - fail to pick up positive results at home to Chelsea then away to Leicester and they could be cut adrift with four games remaining.

The three matches that follow are against Watford, Brentford, and Crystal Palace. At this stage, they might need to take six or seven points to give themselves any opportunity to get out of trouble.

Then, if the relegation race does go down to the final day, Arsenal stand in Everton's way - and the Gunners could be in a battle to finish in the top-four so that certainly won't be an easy game.

Post-Dyche Burnley revival continues

If that wasn't bad enough, then Burnley's recent renaissance will make Everton feel even worse about the prospect of relegation.

Many thought the decision to get rid of Sean Dyche after nearly a decade in charge was short-sighted and done in panic but it has so far proved to be the right call.

Under-23 boss Mike Jackson, assisted by defender Ben Mee has helped secure the Clarets seven points from three games and their win at home to Wolves on Sunday lifted them out of the bottom three with Burnley now two points above the drop zone.

The caveat is that they have played one game more than Everton but with Watford, Newcastle, Tottenham and a double-header against Aston Villa to come, survival all of a sudden looks a very realistic aim.

Everton will certainly need to summon something special to stay up and, in time, they may regret approaching Liverpool in the seemingly defeatist manner they did.

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