Chelsea 1 – 1 Liverpool

Super Studge Rescues a Point

Before the game, I wanted nothing less than three points and for to continue our perfect start to the season. By the 88th minute though, I would’ve bitten your hand off for a draw.

Liverpool had the majority of chances throughout the game, but Eden Hazard only needed one to cooly put the hosts in front.

Daniel Sturridge’s outrageous strike from distance in the 89th minute saved the Reds from their first defeat in the league. Thanks to him, we take on Manchester City next week only behind on goal difference.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 9:

Some have argued that the Brazilian ‘keeper hadn’t been truly tested yet, despite the hype surrounding him. Those arguments no longer have a leg to stand on.

Alisson made many strong saves, catches, and clearances throughout the game, including two unbelievable efforts to deny Willian and Hazard when they were in the clear. He could do nothing to stop Chelsea’s goal as Hazard expertly buried it in the far corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

Trent’s main problem was that he kept getting caught out pushing too far up the pitch. Ordinarily, I’d praise the young lad for being so brave, but a more conservative approach was required on a day when he needed to shackle Hazard.

Unfortunately, he was mostly unimpressive when attacking as well. The majority of his crosses were utterly wayward and led to nothing.

Joe Gomez – 8.5:

Gomez had another cracking game where he looked completely unfazed by the quality of players running at him.

There were times when his teammates started to panic, but Joe consistently and calmly cleaned up at the back and got the ball moving again quickly.

Virgil van Dijk – 9:

VVD, like Gomez and Alisson, was responsible for denying Chelsea some excellent opportunities to seal all three points.

There had been rumblings that the big Dutchman hadn’t quite been at his dominant best this season and his recent rib injury further complicated matters. However, he more than silenced any remaining doubters with a vintage and commanding performance.

Andrew Robertson – 6:

Robbo had an increasingly rare, sub-par, performance in a Reds shirt in this game, and seemed flustered by the occasion and the pressure of having to come from behind.

Like Trent, he went AWOL at times and let Willian run free at Alisson. However, he could’ve been a hero if Xherdan Shaqiri converted from Robbo’s perfect low cross.

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Jordan Henderson – 4:

When he’s not playing at his best, Hendo can be an easy target for Reds fans. Many have questioned whether he should still be at the club, let alone be wearing the armband.

I believe these criticisms are too harsh. However, it’s undeniable that he had a poor game. His decisions were consistently baffling, giving away cheap passes to the opposition or passing backwards in the middle of a counter-attacking move.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5:

It’s strange that Gini played ahead of Hendo in this game, considering he’s been playing so well in the holding role.

Gini failed to influence the game in any meaningful way, and like Robbo, he looked nervous as the game went on.

James Milner – 7:

In the wake of the game, many have said that Milner was just as culpable of not influencing the game. I strongly disagree.

Granted, there were a couple of times where his final ball let him down, but he created chances for his teammates, including selflessly crossing to Bobby Firmino, only for the Brazilian to head into the path of David Luiz.

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Mo Salah – 6:

Same again for Salah. Excellent movement, brilliant chances, tame finishing. We all know he’s just one good game from being back to his confident best, but we needed that to happen in this game.

Salah had a host of chances to put Liverpool in front but simply could not do so, and apart from being denied by a covering Antonio Rudiger, he didn’t really come close.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Mane probably didn’t do enough to help his team win the game. The headlines will all be about Salah’s chances, but Mane isn’t in top form either at the moment.

Having said that, Mane bamboozled the Chelsea defence on one occasion and forced Kepa into a difficult low-save just before the hour mark.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Bobby’s primary influence in the game was harassing Jorginho as he tried to pull strings from the deep.

Aside from that, he wasn’t at his creative best in attack, and missed a glorious chance to level the scores after Milner provided him with a beautiful cross. Bobby’s header didn’t have much wrong with it, Luiz just had the presence of mind to be in the perfect position to deny him.

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Subs

Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Salah 66′) 7:

Missed a sitter to level the scores soon after coming on, but at least he caused issues for Chelsea.

Naby Keita – (on for Henderson 78′) 8:

Looked hungry to make a difference in his short time on the pitch. Many fans will be calling for him to start instead of Hendo for the City game.

Daniel Sturridge – (on for Milner 86′) (Man of the Match) 10:

What a strike. For the second time this season Sturridge scored with one of his first touches of the ball. He’s going to have a big say over Liverpool’s success this season.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Joel Matip, and Fabinho.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

It’s difficult to give Klopp a rating for this game. His starting lineup wasn’t terrible; however, many would’ve liked to have seen Keita start over Hendo.

Regardless, the midfield failed to step up to the challenge, and both fullbacks were consistently caught out. Klopp adjusted these aspects though and ended up rescuing a result.

All three subs made a real difference and were brought in at a reasonably proactive time, but Keita and Sturridge might’ve been brought on sooner in hindsight.

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Talking Points

Subs Changed the Game

The latest trend that’s changing at Liverpool is the use of substitutions. Previously, even under Klopp, it’s been typical that the quality of the bench is shocking, and they’re never brought on with enough time to change the game.

In the last few games though, Klopp has started to buck this trend, and he did so to great effect in this game. Shaqiri, Keita, and of course Sturridge, all helped Liverpool assert their dominance and achieve a result that for large portions of the game seemed out of reach.

This could prove to be a crucial aspect in Liverpool’s title challenge as we can now change games that aren’t going the way we want them to.

Misfiring Salah

Salah is a magnificent player. That hasn’t changed. You can see it in his movements and his ability to create chances, but his finishing is badly letting him down.

That fact is affecting his confidence, which hurts his finishing further, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whenever he’s through on goal, it’s not just that he keeps trying to cut back onto his stronger left foot, Salah’s taking a few touches too many because he doesn’t have the self-belief to bury it.

We can all see the problem, but what is the solution? We need him at his best, and dropping him wouldn’t exactly do his confidence much good. Let’s hope for a big performance next week.

A Good Point

Manchester City are now ahead of us on goal difference. It’s a shame, but in reality, it’s not a big deal right now.

City have had a much easier start to the season. Their biggest games so far have been: beating a poor Arsenal side who hadn’t adapted to Unai Emery’s style yet, drawing to Wolves, and being comfortably beaten by Lyon. That’s it.

Liverpool on the other hand have had good results from: Tottenham away, PSG at home, and now Chelsea away. Of course, this doesn’t mean next’s week game against City becomes any less important, but we as fans need to maintain some level of perspective during this time.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 30/09/2018

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