As Chelsea lose 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield, which dented their chances of making top four at the end of the season, and boosted Liverpool’s title chances- I look at the 5 key talking points from this game today.
- Chelsea approached the game with false nine- Before kick off, the main question was how Sarri would approach this game against Liverpool. And the main surprise came in the tactical side of things with the line up, compared to the personnel side of things.
Here was the line up that Sarri fielded for this crunch game today;
My thoughts on the line up;
Loved it. Sarri is definitely starting to earn my trust back now with his team selections. Bit annoyed that a striker didn’t start, but could understand it. However Hazard would have been better out wide.
I was scared that Alonso would have come back in just because he scored a goal midweek, but Sarri stuck with Emerson, which was seen as the right call before the match in most Chelsea fans minds.
The fact that Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi started was massive, as it shows that the manager can now rely on these young players in the big matches.
And going with the false nine was a good idea, due to the fact that it worked well against Manchester City at home earlier this season, and worked well against them in the cup final.
Here’s how some fans reacted to the line up;
2. Rudiger limped off with injury- This was one real bad news that came from this match today. Rudiger has been solid all season so far for Chelsea, and is arguably their best centre back.
Unfortunately for the German, after a long ball over the top of the Chelsea defence, Rudiger got in a tangle with Mane, and looked liked he sustained a knee injury from that collision with the Senegalese forward.
Rudiger managed to continue for a little while, until he collapsed to the floor in the 40th minute, and had to be assisted off the pitch. Christensen came on in his place.
But is that the season over for Rudiger now?
Sarri did state in his sky sports interview after the game that he doesn’t know the severity of Rudiger’s injury at the moment. He did explain that he will have to wait for a scan, when they get back to Cobham to determine the extent of the injury.
Could this be an opportunity for the forgotten men- Cahill and Ampadu to return to the line up or the Premier League matchday squads at least?
3. Chelsea’s plan of first half containment worked but failed in the second half- Chelsea were solid and compact in the first half, but that all went in the second half. Half of that was due to the fact that Liverpool upped the tempo and pace of the game, and the other half was that we switched off defensively like we have done in the second half of many big games this year.
Liverpool’s opener came in the 51st minute after a brilliant chipped ball from Jordan Henderson found an unmarked Mane at the back post, who headed in comfortably to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead. Azpilicueta was nowhere to be seen for that goal.
And the second goal in the 53rd minute was just unstoppable on the whole. Salah turned Emerson on the inside and fired in an absolute rocket from the edge of the box to double Liverpool’s lead. However, for me- I think that Jorginho could have closed him down quicker before he released the shot.
After that fast start from Liverpool in the second half really made Chelsea throw that plan out of the window for the rest of the game…
4. Hazard’s missed chances cost Chelsea a possible point- After going 2-0 down in the second half, Chelsea had a brilliant spell in the game and caused multiple problems for Liverpool. Mostly due to the tactical switch from Sarri, bringing on Higuain and moving Hazard out to a wider position.
Hazard’s first chance came in the 59th minute when a David Luiz through ball found Hazard, who rolled his shot past Alisson but onto the post. That could have been 2-1 at that stage.
And then in the 61st minute when Hazard was picked out by a Willian cross but fired his tame effort at Alisson. That could have been 2-2.
So those missed chances in that spell cost Chelsea a possible point at Anfield today.
5. Higuain useless on the whole when he came on- Recently Gonzalo Higuain has been in awful form for Chelsea. He hasn’t scored a goal for the Blues, since his double against Huddersfield in February.
So it baffled me why he came on instead of Giroud who has been much better than the Argentine in recent weeks. That was one of Sarri’s major mistakes today. Although Higuain started brightly when he came on for about five minutes- he quickly faded.
And it was summed up by his lack of effort today. Constantly walking and strolling around in the last ten minutes- looking tired despite being a sub in the second half.
What also summed him up was when he was played through and he didn’t see the ball as he was looking the other way! And as a result Liverpool dealt with that easily.
Here’s how Chelsea fans reacted to Higuain’s cameo yesterday;
One other talking point from this game was this unwanted stat;
Chelsea next play on Thursday, when they take on Slavia Prague in the 2nd leg of their Europa League quarter-final, at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have a 1-0 advantage from Prague, so have a real good chance to get the job done on Thursday. This game in the Europa League kicks off at 8pm (UK time).
Chelsea are next in Premier League action on the 22nd of April, when they take on Burnley on the Monday Night Football (MNF) at 8pm (UK time).
Liverpool are next in action on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Porto. The second leg kicks off at 8pm (UK time). Liverpool take a 2-0 lead to the
Estádio do Dragão.
The Reds are next in Premier League action next Sunday, when they take on relegation threatened Cardiff City at 4pm (UK time). This game is at the Cardiff City Stadium.
By Danyal Khan