Premier League Match Report (20/07/20): Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea
The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW37): Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea
It is coronation night for Liverpool and against a hallowed Chelsea side that have given them a few nightmares in the past no less. The trophy was on display in the stadium and we were treated to a match fit for the occasion.
Waiting for the game come to life, Liverpool win the ball back high up the pitch in the 22nd minute with Naby Keita won the ball, took one touch and hit an absolute rocket past Kepa to opening the lead. Mason Mount thought he had equalised when he ran through one-on-one, slotting beneath Alisson, though VAR clearly showed the midfielder was offside when played through.
Liverpool's lead was extended on the 38th minute when Sadio Mane was fouled my Mateo Kovacic 30-yards from goal, with Trent Alexander-Arnold replicating his fine free-kick goal against Crystal Palace, with the ball spinning over the wall and into the net - a lovely goal to extend the lead.
Chelsea looked all but dead and buried on the 43rd minute when an Andrew Robertson corner bounced between Mo Salah and Cesar Azpilicueta, the ball dropping to Gini Wijnaldum to lace into the roof of the net.
Chelsea breathed a sense of life into the game in the 3rd minute of extra-time in the first-half when Chelsea worked the ball to Kovacic on the left-flank. The Croatian's floated cross was controlled by Willian who forced a save from Alisson at close range, with the ball spinning up in the air and allowing Olivier Giroud the chance to tap in from close range.
Chelsea's night went from bad to worse in the 54th minute when Roberto Firmino powered home a Trent Alexander-Arnold header - this was the first time the Brazilian had scored at Anfield, whilst the assist for Alexander-Arnold was his 13th, the most ever by a defender in the Premier League and a record of his own he broke, with the defender assisting 12 goals during the 2018/19 season.
The introduction of Christian Pulisic changed the game and in a big way with his first real action in the 61st minute to dribble well past a host of Liverpool players before putting the ball through the legs of Joe Gomez before cutting a pass back to Tammy Abraham to score a simple tap=in despite the best advances of Alisson. Pulisic here showed signs of prime Eden Hazard, his quick feet were electric.
Pulisic, a former Liverpool transfer target threatened to turn the game on its head and mount an unlikely comeback when the American chested down Hudson-Odoi's cross, was able to turn in the box before rifling a shot into the roof of the net.
With Chelsea pushing for an equaliser, Liverpool caught them on the ball when Sadio Mane released Andrew Robertson down the left. The Scotsman shot away from the tackle of a few Chelsea defenders before crossing low for substitute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to finish with a cool first-time effort, with Curtis Jones leaving the ball the key to Ox getting all the space in the world to finish the match as a contest.
What an end to the season at Anfield, an instant classic that will be remembered in the annuals by Liverpool fans, a win which leaves Chelsea needing a result against a stubborn Wolves side at Stamford Bridge to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Man of the Match: Trent Alexander-Arnold (LIV)
Christian Pulisic's arrival to the game was impactful, energetic and sudden - we think to a larger point the American wanted to make a point against Liverpool who ultimately passed on his signature - in what was a great cameo off the bench with a brilliant assist for Abraham and a well-taken for for Chelsea's third of the evening.
Despite this, Liverpool flowed and Chelsea's trio of central defenders gave license to Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson to take command of the match. The same happened against Leicester when they went defensive, Liverpool's full-backs destroy three central defenders. On Liverpool's crowning night, Alexander-Arnold scored a wonderful free-kick and assisted a picture perfet header from Roberto Firmino, an assist that meant TAA broke his own assist record from the previous season.
It was one of those nights where it went all right for the Englishman, with the right-back quickly cementing his legacy as one of the best players in the league, and without doubt the standout right-back.
LIV 5-3 CHE - Insight and Analysis:
After a slow 20 minutes, Naby Keita's unstoppable strike from range set in motion a very open game of football. Liverpool tore Chelsea apart in the full-back areas and made the most of the time allowed to Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, with both having stellar nights. It was a harder night for Mane and Salah as they were closely marshalled and clearly frustrated when both leaving the pitch, but the game plan by Klopp worked perfectly until Naby Keita's high-press was missed when subbed.
The Reds never looked like losing this contest and it was only one due to Christian Pulisic adding some energy into the game as he targeted Joe Gomez successfully. Liverpool didn't look too bothered with the goals conceded though as they had already had the game wrapped up and already had one eye on the podium in The Kop.
Chelsea's main problem right now is the lack of defensive unity. They remind me of the Liverpool sides in the past that had very good players in attack, but were being held back by defenders and goalkeeping options that are being lambasted by their fanbase as being below-par - despite having the most expensive goalkeeper in the world on their books.
Chelsea simply excel when they get the ball to their creative wingers, but can't defend to save their lives. I imagine that Lampard will be looking to add a central defender and some more dynamic full-backs to their squad next season - the Blues have already been copying Liverpool's transfer targets (Werner, Pulisic, Ziyech), so they might as well get in the full-backs that give Chelsea a better balance.
If I'm going to call the final day right now, I can see Wolves scalping Chelsea at The Bridge and a tense game between Leicester and Man United playing out a stale draw, leaving The Blues out of the Champions League spaces.
On the trophy lifting celebrations:
It's been a long time coming and to every Liverpool fan out there, I hope that this was the moment you finally found an inner peace. It has been a long 30 years and living with a twin brother, madly in love with Liverpool from birth, it has been great to see @HypeTrainSam revel in Liverpool's recent success.
Anfield did its best to create a half-decent atmosphere for the trophy lift and given the season we've had, even though it is surreal given the state of the world in 2020, the right team ultimately got what they deserved. Jurgen Klopp's side have been a credit to this league, play fair and attacking football, and have cobbled together some of the world's best players into a great squad by signing players from Southampton, Newcastle, Hull, Hoffenheim and Charlton to name but a few.
The Reds are the envy of world football and they've done it the right way - long may their success continue in a competitive and difficult league that is much harder to retain your previous successes.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
DEF: T. Alexander-Arnold
DEF: J. Gomez
DEF: V. van Dijk
DEF: A. Robertson
MID: N. Keita (Jones 66')
MID: G. Wijnaldum (Milner 66')
FOR: M. Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain 79')
FOR: R. Firmino (Minamino 87')
FOR: S. Mané (Origi 87')
Lovren, Milner, Adrián, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Lallana, Shaqiri, Origi, Jones
Manager: Frank Lampard
GK: K. Arrizabalaga
DEF: C. Azpilicueta
DEF: K. Zouma
DEF: A. Rüdiger
DEF: R. James
DEF: M. Alonso (Emerson 88')
MID: M. Kovacic
FOR: Willian (Pulisic 59')
FOR: M. Mount (Hudson-Odoi 59')
FOR: O. Giroud (Abraham 59')
Christensen, Abraham, Pedro, Loftus-Cheek, Caballero, Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Tomori, Emerson
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