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English Premier League Football

Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea: Title-party thriller one for the ages


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp did not mince words, while discussing his side’s abysmal defensive game-play in the 2-1 defeat against Arsenal. 

“When you make these kind of mistakes you cannot win a football game. All the mistakes were too big. We have to make sure things like this do not happen again,” he stated bluntly. The knives were out against the Premier League Champions after dropping eight points in five games, having conceded only seven points all season before that.

Club legend Graeme Souness further stated that a drop in quality was natural, after winning the league. However, Klopp’s Liverpool is certainly not an ordinary side happy to rest on its laurels, making a confident comeback against Chelsea nothing short of a necessity. The Blues needed a win, in order to secure a Champions League spot next season.

However, what one could never have anticipated was an offensive masterclass by Liverpool, leaving Frank Lampard’s men gasping for breath. Trent Alexander Arnold was the man to watch out for, scoring a fantastic free kick with a further assist for Roberto Firmino’s first goal at Anfield, in the EPL this season. He was defensively solid and quite ruthless going forward. So was partner in crime, Andrew Robertson on the opposite flank.

Liverpool started the clash with high intensity, hounding their opponents, giving them no time on the ball and forcing them to make mistakes. The quick interplay between their front three, certainly gave the match an exciting edge. Antonio Rudiger seemed two steps behind Mohamed Salah at every stage, with Cesar Azpilicueta struggling to counter Sadio Mane, who kept interchanging his position with Firmino. Chelsea tried to escape through Jorginho, whose one touch passing often helped them get out of sticky situations. Once the intensity reduced, the Blues wasted no time in playing the ball out to their wide wing-backs. Liverpool’s narrow defence resulted in opportunities to put the crosses in, playing to the aerial strengths of Olivier Giroud. The Blues nearly secured an opening goal in the initial 20 minutes, through some admirable football which put the defenders in a spot of bother.

However, their inability to play out from the back was on display yet again as Naby Keita made amends for an underwhelming season by unleashing a pile-driver into the top corner. The midfielder was another stand-out performer completing 49 passes with healthy 90% pass accuracy. Keita’s goal was closely followed by sublime goals from Trent Alexander Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum, as Liverpool raced on to a 3-0 lead at the stroke of half time.

However, the intensity certainly drooped as Giroud pulled one back in the last few seconds of the first half, a classic poacher goal following a very good save by Alisson. The Brazilian attempted to parry a strong shot by Willian, but was unlucky with the Frenchman tapping the ball in. The confidence reflected in the second half as Chelsea returned with renewed enthusiasm but failed to find early success, as Fabinho made his presence felt. The midfielder again shone in the role of a deep midfielder, exuding calmness on the ball. He was also responsible for halting several Chelsea attacks, finishing the game with 5 glorious tackles.

As the Blues eased in, Firmino seized the opportunity with both hands ending his goal drought at Anfield, with a well taken header following a deep cross from Trent.

‘Captain America’ Christian Pulisic emerges as a game-changer:

In such a tense situation, Frank Lampard changed the game with the introduction of Chelsea’s Captain America, Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic’s introduction suddenly helped Chelsea look fast, dangerous and direct, with the US International weaving his way past three defenders to create an excellent opportunity for Tammy Abraham who made it 4-2. The attacker further pitched in with a goal, as Callum Hudson-Odoi got free following a collision between Gomez and van Dijk. Odoi crossed the ball to Pulisic, who under pressure from Alexander-Arnold, finished with aplomb reducing the deficit to a single goal.

However, Liverpool were spared any further heart-break following the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who completed a classic counter-attack to put the game to bed with a fine goal.

Earlier, the Reds started the game in their standard 4-3-3 formation. The back line remained the same with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Alisson as keeper. With the club captain Jordan Henderson still injured, Klopp decided to field Naby Keita and Georgio Wijnaldum partnering Fabinho. The front 3 of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino started as usual.

Chelsea also deployed a 3-4-3 formation, which gifted them a win against Manchester United three days ago. Kepa returned in goal with a back 3 of Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rudiger. Reece James was handed an opportunity, having started the last game on bench. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic started in midfield. Frank Lampard again entrusted Olivier Giroud the attacker’s role with Willian and Mason Mount on the flanks.

Liverpool have finally lifted the Premier League trophy after 30 years, and this clash was certainly testimony to their capabilities. With one more game left to play against Newcastle United, Klopp will be looking to get the momentum going.

Chelsea on the other hand, need to sort out their defensive woes ahead of a must-win game against the Wolves. Kepa was poor the entire evening, and needs to be more assertive in front of goal. Their record away from home is abysmal, having conceded 37 goals. Lampard certainly needs to put on his thinking cap.

Written By: Rutvik Sanghvi.

Image Credits: Liverpool


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