Liverpool chose to break its slump with a win against Everton, its neighbor across Stanley Park who is in relegation trouble. In the Reds’ last four Premier League games, Liverpool picked up one point. It rocked the club back to 10th in the table, all but eliminated from Champions League qualification.

Mathematically, of course, Liverpool is not out of it. And, if this game against Everton is any indication, Liverpool have the capacity to punch back into Europe. The returns of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah back on the scoresheet and positive showings from some of the younger signings will bring hope and positivity to Anfield.

Meanwhile, Sean Dyche certainly has his work cut out to keep Everton in the top flight for the 70th-straight season. Capitulated by rapid counterattacks, the always reliable defensive front of Dyche could not quite take shape in his second game in charge of the Toffees. Everton remains in the relegation zone.

Quick counters give Liverpool win against Everton

Everton almost opened the scoring at Anfield, though. On a corner in the 36th minute, James Tarkowski lofted a header back against the grain towards Allisson’s right hand side. The ball clanked off the bottom of the post. After a brief goalmouth scramble, the hosts shot the other way. Mohamed Salah retrieved the ball 30 yards from his own goal and tossed it off to Darwin Núñez.

Núñez, the butt of a number of jokes over his lack of form in England, showed his potential. A marauding run with pace down the left side could not be caught by Everton defenders. He then played a cross back into the middle. He returned the pass that got it all started, as Mohamed Salah touched home past an out-of-position Jordan Pickford.

From the time the ball hit the post at Liverpool’s end to going into the back of Everton’s net, 15 seconds passed. This was Salah’s eighth goal of the league season, and first goal in all competitions since an FA Cup goal against Wolves over a month ago.

Cody Gakpo, another new signing looking to find his footing, then cashed in Liverpool’s second goal. It was a classic Liverpool goal created by the ever-talented fullbacks. Andy Robertson started the move, breaking through the Everton midfield. The ball eventually made its way over to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who slid a pass through Everton’s defense. Gakpo touched home from no more than six feet away.

Key fixtures coming up

This result has limited impact on the current standings. Everton is in 18th, Liverpool rises up to ninth. However, it could set the tones for next weekend’s fixtures, which are both hugely important.

For Liverpool, it takes on Newcastle. Although Newcastle is in fourth, the Magpies are sputtering slightly. Eddie Howe’s side has five draws in its last six games. Still unbeaten, yes, but not racking up the points as it was earlier in the season. If there was a time to get points off Newcastle, this may be it. Liverpool is the only team to defeat Newcastle in league play this season, doing so in stoppage time at Anfield.

Everton’s game is even more crucial. A home game against Leeds, another relegation opponent, can get the club out of the relegation zone. Leeds holds a one-point edge in that regard, so Everton would have to win to jump the Whites in the table. Both games are on Saturday, Feb. 18.