John Aldridge surveyed the performance of Jarrad Branthwaite in Everton’s Merseyside derby loss and declared: he was man of the match.
The Toffees suffered a 2-0 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield last Saturday, although the encounter was awash of controversial refereeing decisions. Ashley Young was sent off in the 37th minute for two yellow cards. Yet the first booking was harsh and the Reds’ Kostas Tsimikas escaped a caution for a similar foul.
Then in the second period, Everton boss Sean Dyche was left baffled how Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate remained on the pitch when he fouled the breaking Beto. Konate was subbed off soon afterward.
The home side had to wait until the 75th minute to finally break down 10-man Everton. Michael Keane handled Luis Diaz’s cross inside the box, with Mo Salah converting the penalty. Salah then doubled the advantage in stoppage time.
Still, Everton could take positives from the display, with Branthwaite impressing in his maiden Merseyside derby. Aldridge, a Liverpool hero and staunch fan, waxed lyrical about the 21-year-old and felt he was the best player on the pitch.
Writing in his Sunday World column, Aldridge said: “Two players stood out for me in the Merseyside derby, with the man of the match wearing a blue shirt.
“I haven’t seen too much of Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite, but he was fantastic at the heart of the visitors’ defence yesterday. Trent Alexander-Arnold got some dangerous balls into the box, but Branthwaite was brilliantly positioned to deal with them and his reading of the game was fantastic.
“He blocked so many Liverpool efforts on goal, and for a 21-year-old defender signed from Carlisle, he stood out as the best defender on the pitch.”