After this corresponding fixture earlier this season, a team devoid of ideas and brains played their last match under a manager who had lost his players, his fans and his boardroom.
On that occasion, it was Liverpool’s manager, Brendan Rodgers, clearing his desk.
This time, all the action is expected on the other side of Stanley Park.
Do not bet on Roberto Martinez following Rodgers to the job centre in the coming days after Everton were comprehensively sunk by a Liverpool side playing with brilliance and buoyancy in a wonderful match at Anfield last night.
After the game, Martinez said “It was a disaster. A horrible showing that started with the best intentions but ended up with the inability to get the basics right. We forgot to defend the box and gave them a soft two-goal lead. We got emotional with the red card and from then on Gareth Barry was injured and John Stones was ill, it was a chain reaction. A disaster. An impossible experience. It is a challenge [Funes Mori] that he should avoid. He got carried away with the emotion of a derby, he got carried away. It is a huge game for us on Saturday in the FA Cup which is the only good thing.”
With both Liverpool and Everton now concentrating on cup semi-final exploits — Everton first, this Saturday against Manchester United in the FA Cup before Liverpool’s Europa League tie with Villarreal next Thursday — this match was meant to have little significance.
Try telling that to the Kop who cheered four fine goals, courtesy of Divock Origi, Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Sturridge, and Philippe Coutinho, and who heartedly booed Ramiro Funes Mori for his second-half sending off that summed up Everton’s self-destruction.
This was breathless, bruising and brilliant — a typical derby bunfight that was as high-octane as the Premier League can get.
Adam Lallana should have put Liverpool in front after just five minutes but squandered the glorious chance. After Bryan Oviedo’s woeful clearance, Coutinho brilliantly put Adam Lallana through on goal but Joel Robles blocked the effort.
Everton covered up and prepared to spend the evening throwing the odd counter-punch.
The visitors just kept biding their time and after 20 minutes, Mirallas blazed wide when he really should have made Simon Mignolet at least draw his wages.
The way Martinez jumped up and down in frustration on the sidelines was a telling indicator of just how good a chance it was. Little was he to know just how painful and frustrating his night was to become.
Basketball matches have taken longer to move from end to end than this encounter and just before the break, the dam finally broke as Origi opened the scoring. Milner’s wonderful patience in waiting for the right time to cross to the back post was more than rewarded by Origi who rose above a stationary Everton defence with aplomb.
If that lit the goal lay the dynamite, Sakho’s header two minutes later lit the fuse.
Again, Milner crossed intelligently, again Everton failed to follow a red shirt, and again they were punished. Sakho was thrilled with his intelligent finish and raced to substitute Kolo Toure to celebrate.
More smiles were to come. Seconds after the interval, Funes Mori was dismissed for a nasty looking tackle high on Origi’s ankle — the 21st red card in this fixture’s Premier League history — and the speed and concern shown by the attending paramedics as Origi was stretchered off told its own tale.
Funes Mori walked for it and Liverpool made the extra man count.
They poured forward relentlessly as Sturridge immediately proved to be a pain and when he added a third after 61 minutes, Anfield roared with pleasure and cruel, contemptuous laughter.
Everton gave up. It was embarrassing. It was shameful.
Liverpool had the run of the pitch and were physically and mentally scoffing at their broken neighbours.
When Coutinho added a fourth with 14 minutes remaining, Everton’s fans left in their droves while at the other end of the ground, the Kop chanted Martinez’s name.
It was merciless and unforgiving; a bit like the match itself. And it could also well be the last time Martinez’s name is sung on Merseyside.
Afterwards, Klopp said: ”4-0 against Everton, if you told me before the game I would take it but now it is spoiled by the injury. The situation with Divock Origi is not good. The first reaction was maybe it’s broken but it’s not broken. The ankle is twisted so we have to see.”
Mignolet 6; Clyne 7, Lovren 7, Sakho 8, Moreno 7; Lucas 7, Milner 8 (81 Ibe, 6); Lallana 7, Firmino 7 (Allen 66, 6) Coutinho 7; Origi 8 (Sturridge 55, 6)
Ward, Toure, Smith, Stewart
Robles 7; Oviedo 6, Stones 6 (Pienaar 62,6), Funes Mori 4, Baines; McCarthy 6, Barry 5 (Besic 46, 6); Lennon 6, Barkley 6 (Cleverley 58, 6), Mirallas 7; Lukaku 7
Howard, Niasse, Deulofeu, Osman