Liverpool and Klopp have new competition – Everton have passed the acid test

Liverpool have spent so much time in the heads of Everton that owners Fenway Sports Group should have been charging them rent.

Boston billionaire JW Henry put his reputation on the line last weekend after cooking up the failed 'Project Big Picture' proposal alongside Manchester United.

But taking a decade of dollars from his neighbours instead would have been a much less divisive and damaging way of making some easy cash than getting into bed with his most bitter rivals.

A decade is how long it's been since Liverpool lost at Goodison Park and in recent times this fixture has been the most one-sided derby in world football.

The Toffees' winless run at Anfield goes back even further, to 1999 and since winning their last piece of silverware in the shape of the 1995 FA Cup, they had seen those from across Stanley Park trouser an incredible 13 trophies, including two Champions League titles.

The City has been red and the Blues have been in hibernation – without even having the Government to blame.

But as we've all discovered in 2020, times can change very quickly, albeit not always for the better.

Yet while Merseyside continues to suffer more than most due to the on-going lockdown measures of Covid-19, those who support the Toffees now have a team to be proud of again at least.

Luring Carlo Ancelotti to Goodison was a jaw-dropping moment in English football and following some intelligent summer signings, the Italian legend had led the Toffees to a stunning start to the new season.

So much so that Jurgen Klopp's English champions popped round to their neighbours in the unusual position of looking up at them in the table.

The Toffees were top for the first time since 1989 following four straight league wins and seven in all competitions – their best start to a campaign for a staggering 126 years.

Former star Alan Stubbs had been left with one foot in dreamland when he said: "We are pinching ourselves. It has been a brilliant start, the new signings have made such a difference to everything around the club. The feelgood factor is there."

And it will remain in place this morning, too, despite the blue juggernaut being slowed down by the red version that demolished everything in its way last season.

Twice Klopp's men took the lead and twice the Toffees hit back in a fast and frantic derby full of blood and thunder, between two wonderful sides showing the sort of commitment and passion that defines these games.

Even when Sadio Mane had slammed the visitors ahead inside three minutes and the brainless Jordan Pickford escaped a red card for a horrific challenge on Virgil Van Dijk that forced the Dutchman from the field, Ancelotti's men would not buckle like they have done in years gone by.

Even when Mo Solah restored his side's lead with less than 20 minutes remaining, the hosts found the grit and guts to hit back with a sucker punch of their own from the red hot Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Even when Richarlison was shown a deserved red card to leave his side clinging on with 10 men and Jordan Henderson had a legitimate winner ruled out for off-side, the Toffees left the pitch still boasting an unbeaten record.

This might have been the eighth draw in the last nine meetings, but something felt different.

It felt like the Toffees, who finished 50 points behind their neighbours last season, had passed the acid test of their burgeoning credentials. That Ancelotti is now moulding a team capable of achieving something special.

Klopp could be forgiven for thinking the main threat to his reign as king of English football would come from a familiar place like Manchester this season.

But the German might have to start looking a little closer to home.

GOOD WEEK

Pat Lam – The Bristol Bears coach led his club to their first European trophy as they beat French side Toulon in the Challenge Cup final in France.

Andrea Radrizzani – The Leeds United chairman has become the first top flight owner to come out and criticise Liverpool and Manchester United for cooking up the failed 'Project Big Picture' proposal. Good for him.

Lewis Hamilton – The F1 champion continues to divide opinion, but to match Michael Schumacher's total of 91 Grand Prix wins cements his place as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, whether we like it or not.

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BAD WEEK

Jane Allen – The British Gymnastics CEO showed amazing flexibility when making it clear she will dodge questions about athlete welfare until retiring from her role in December. She even backed a coach under investigation for bullying. No wonder the sport is in such a mess.

Jack Grealish – Was left keeping the bench warm for the whole of England's shambolic defeat to Denmark at Wembley in midweek. He must wonder what Gareth Southgate has against him.

Steve Finnan – The former Liverpool star is being forced to sell several pieces of memorabilia he won at Anfield on an auction website after his property business went into liquidation.

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