The much awaited fixture disappointed in one half, and left the supporters on their toes in the other, and ended with shared points among the Premier League giants with a goal each by Mohamed Salah and Willian.
A first half, dominated by the brilliant performance of Eden Hazard, was soon humbled by the Egyptian’s cool finish to give the Reds the lead. But Liverpool failed to maintain their resolve to keep hold of their slim advantage, and eventually conceded an 85th-minute goal via what looked like a misplaced cross from Willian.
Here are the key talking points from yet another draw between the two sides:
1. Salah is the best signing Liverpool have made in a VERY long time
Jurgen Klopp’s £40 million investment in the former Chelsea man seems to have been his best import since taking charge in Merseyside. Salah has displayed the potential to finish the season as not only the best signing in England, but all of Europe.
Supporting a rather mediocre performance by Daniel Sturridge, the Egyptian had to be at his very best, and that’s exactly what he did. The pacey winger burdened Marcos Alonso with all kind of problems, and managed to best the Chelsea defender for most of the time.
It wasn’t long before the ex-Roma man finally found the net for the 10th time in the league this season, as his valiant finish almost sealed his side’s victory. Unfortunately for him, the Blues had other plans.
2. Klopp’s squad selection
Liverpool fans probably raised their eyebrows when they first saw the starting XI for the fixture. The German boss decided to roll the dice without Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, and produced a decent result despite the questions thrown at him for his choices.
On the other hand, the former Dortmund manager decided to keep his faith in Alberto Moreno, contrasting outside perspectives on the player’s current situation. Further, Ragnar Klavan has also performed consistently, and has proved to be worthy of making regular starts under Klopp.
3. It really is Eden Hazard FC
Though the phrase may have become a popular ‘meme’ on twitter, Antonio Conte’s men proved that there are always truths to most jokes at Anfield. Hazard was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch, and was one of the only few players who was getting things done on their part.
Tiemoue Bakayoko constantly failed to offer any assistance, whilst Danny Drinkwater’s first start for his new club seemed somewhat lacklustre. Alvaro Morata also suffered a quiet outing.
However, the Belgian showed why he’s considered as the talisman at Stamford Bridge, but failed to top the performance off with a goal for himself. Apart from that, the Londoners were pretty much a one-man team before the introduction of Cesc Fabregas and Willian.
4. The most awkward goal of the season
Salah was denied the hero status by the hands of Willian just when the hosts thought they had bagged all three points. The Brazilian’s late introduction into the game gave birth to a late equaliser, which could probably win the title of the most ‘awkward’ goal of the season.
The talented winger was gifted possession in the opposition penalty area, and quickly turned to cross the ball inside for a teammate. But the ball sailed past Simon Mignolet, who was off his line, and the Belgian was faced with something completely unexpected.
Intentional or not, stunning goal, nonetheless. Well, it would be hard-pressed to say Conte’s men rode their luck throughout the match, but their point came purely out of luck, which they surely won’t be complaining about.
5. Was Mike Dean too forgiving?
Though Mike Dean is often the subject of controversial decisions in certain important games, the FA official is going to be questioned about the ‘questionable’ softness he showed throughout the match.
The only complaint the fans will have from the match would be the first half, where the cards never left Dean’s pocket. Tactical fouls were brushed off with warnings multiple times, and the challenger was never booked in all of those cases.
Though no one intends to make the beautiful game a no-contact sport, deliberate fouls to ease pressure should surely be subjected to consequences, and football’s way of doing that is through cards. Being too forgiving on that topic completely defeats the purpose of those rules.
Written by Ashish Sreejith
Have had two addictions in life- playing football and watching football. Usually described as introverted but not when it comes to speaking and writing about the beautiful game of football.