LIVERPOOL 1-1 Chelsea
Liverpool went up against Chelsea and came away without being defeated for the 2nd time this season. The current Premier League leaders had already been beaten by us at Stamford Bridge and now couldn’t manage victory over Liverpool in Anfield either.
For the first time since November, Henderson, Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana all were placed into the same starting 11. Since that time, we’ve seen injuries to some of those players that stopped the same successful team from all playing together. We got them for this game, though. Also on the bench was Sadio Mané, who recently returned from international duty. Everyone was glad to see him back. This squad was as strong as it could have been, really. The experienced first team regulars, no youth players. Nobody could possibly fault Jurgen Klopp for his squad selection, it was a solid bunch of the best players Liverpool have to offer.
The first half was an even contest, both teams had their chances and there was some solid defending going on that ensured their opportunities did not turn into goals, most of the time. A goal was seen in the first half though and it would be the visitors who scored in around 25 minutes.
A free kick had been given away by Liverpool, nothing too serious to give Liverpool cards for but also nothing that could be claimed “the referee shouldn’t have given that” either. Once the free kick was awarded, Simon Mignolet started trying to organise the defenders in front of him, as goalkeepers often do.
They ask a few of their defence to move a bit, so that they block space of the goal that the goalkeeper doesn’t have to save shots at any more. If the whole left side of the goal is defended by defenders, then the goalkeeper would only have to dive to the right of the goal and he’d be 100% correct in his direction of diving, too. That’s not something they can always know 100% of the time as a free kick is taken if they don’t ask their defenders to do anything about blocking shots. It could go left or right. Anyway, Mignolet did start using these kind of clever tactics and to be honest, it probably distracted him enough that he didn’t even notice David Luiz stepping up to the ball, striking it and sending it over the wall Mignolet was busy organising in front of him. Yes, it was well placed. There was some doubt over whether it was taken before the referee had whistled to get the match going again though.
By the end of the game when Mignolet was interviewed and asked about when Liverpool conceded he said “I didn’t hear the whistle, was not ready to make a save because I hadn’t noticed the referee indiciated it was about to be taken”. It all happened so fast that Luiz placed the ball in the net before Mignolet was even done talking to the defenders in front of him. I wouldn’t blame Mignolet directly for conceding this. It’s just unfortunate, not really anything to point fingers at our players for. When some things go so quickly that you’re not properly organised to deal with shots on your goal, that can lead to conceding.
The referee could have easily asked for the free kick to be retaken if he hadn’t actually blown his whistle before Luiz took his shot. That didn’t happen though and the goal stood. Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea
Liverpool still looked determined to get something out of the game, they’d continue pressing and did not just defend for the rest of the game to stop more goals being conceded. We had decent attacking opportunities, which were made by our own squad. More than defensive errors made by Chelsea, these were chances we created ourselves as we pushed for goals of our own.
One player who had a few chances to score was Roberto Firmino. Unfortunately, he didn’t convert any of them into goals himself, but that he was being given assists to do so was still something to cheer about. Our team helped each other out and Firmino could not complain about the assistance his team was giving him, certainly. We played the ball out to him and he’d have his chance to score. With a bit of luck doing the same thing in other games, he’ll make sure the ball ends up in the net the next time he’s given an assist. Something to work on, for the future. Self improvement for the Brazilian.
Half time would arrive and Chelsea still led the game, but Jurgen Klopp surely will have let his squad know how well they were doing so far. They didn’t look depressed about the scoreline, just motivated to do better and equalise. Which we would, by the 57th minute.
Liverpool had been pushing hard since the start of the 2nd half. Adam Lallana had taken a shot which got blocked. As it came back out to us, it would get crossed over into the penalty area. David Luiz was marking Wijnaldum as he rushed towards the ball in the air but “Gini” got to the ball first and headed home to score yet again for his new club. Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Liverpool’s equaliser was much needed. It was everything we had been required to get so that we wouldn’t be beaten by the Premier League leaders. By the end of the game, we’d have kept the scores level since the 57th minute. Even as Diego Costa took a penalty and Simon Mignolet stepped up to dive to his right hand side and save it in front of the home fans.
That was a vital part of our claiming a single point, credit to Mignolet is totally deserved right now. We most likely would have lost without your efforts. Even if people were to blame you for letting in that free kick David Luiz scored, it’s undeniable that you stopped Diego Costa from making it 2-1. So, we needed you there badly. Well done, Simon.
The 2nd half saw a player everyone had been missing through the time that the AFCON tournament had been running and he was playing for Senegal in it. Mané was on good form, holding the midfield together like a captain assisting his teammates, helping us in our attacking duties as we pushed for a 2nd goal and possible match winner. It wouldn’t come, but we couldn’t have come closer to the victory without Mané on the pitch. He was part of every push forward we had from the moment he was brought onto the pitch.
Man of the Match
Wijnaldum hasn’t completely won over all of our fans just yet but he’s making steps towards doing so every time he plays and scores. His goal against Manchester City on New Years Eve was just like the one he scored against Chelsea. Both headers, he’s great in the air. Some of the Premier League’s best defenders have gone up against and he’s been the winner of the aerial battles, to score headed shots. He likes to score in front of home crowds, so be expecting to see him score for Liverpool at Anfield more than any other stadium. Well done, Gini.
So, that was the final result. Quite an achievement, certainly seems like an improvement to claim even a single point against the Premier League leaders when we’d previouisly been beaten by Swansea, Southampton and Wolverhampton. Now, hopefully we can take this good form into our nearest fixtures coming up.
Liverpool play Hull away soon.
So, walk on with hope in your hearts Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s