A Super Sunday fixture to start 2022. It was Chelsea vs Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool were without their manager Klopp and without first-team players with the likes of Firmino, Matip, and Alisson. All four Reds were suspected positive tests for COVID-19.
Klopp’s assistant Pepijn Lijnders led the team. It might have been a wonderful experience for the Dutchman.
The game started in a blistering manner with both sides hungry for a goal. But it was the Reds who took an important lead. As Sadio Mane’s crisp finish made it 1-0 in the 9th minute.
And to make matter worse for the home fans, former Blues Mo Salah added more wounds for Chelsea. The League’s top scorer joined the Reds party to make it 2-0 in the 26th minute.
A typical Mo Salah goal as he riggle past Chelsea’s defense to score his 150th Premier League goal.
But Thomas Tuchel’s tenacious Blues were looking for that one moment of magic to turn the game around. And that moment of magic came in the 42nd minute as Chelsea midfielder Kovacic scores a stunner.
With Chelsea looking to end the half strong they got another goal. In the added period of the first half American star Pulisic scores to make it all square at the interval.
The second half started in a similar fashion, keeping everyone on the edge. Moreover, both sets of goalkeepers made some crucial saves. Coming into the later stage of the game Chelsea looked like the team most likely to score but were denied.
The game was thrillingly poised and ended 2-2. A frenetic game of football at Stamford Bridge but the real winners from this game were Man City, who extended their lead to 10 points at the top after spoils were shared between the Blues and the Reds.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in their last three games against Liverpool (W1 D2). They ended their losing streak of four consecutive games from 2019 and 2020.
For the first time since February 2016 (a run of four under Guus Hiddink) the Blues have drawn three games in a row at home. And have currently drawn five of their last six Premier League homes games.
There have been four occasions in Premier League where a side have surrendered 2+ goals lead. And Liverpool have been on two occasions where they failed to win after taking a 2-0 lead (previously, vs Brighton 2-2 in October).
Chelsea vs Liverpool: Post match reactions
Lijnders’ reaction to the result and Liverpool’s performance.
We should have controlled the game better. We had moments already before the 2-0; In the moments we played, we really connected well and we were quick in mind, thought about the next pass.
Overall, I can speak a lot about tactics and all these ideas but for me [the feeling is] pride because we could have come here with a lot of excuses, the team could have come here with a lot of excuses, but they fought with all they had.
Lijnders speaks Liverpool’s display defensively
I don’t think the problem was defensively. We corrected a few things at half-time, but I think the problem was we didn’t keep the ball for long enough in many moments when we went to their half because that’s the moment they have to push wing-backs back in and that’s the moment where we can really also rest with the ball. This balance was not right today, but again, you can always do things better in a draw.
When asked about how today’s result impacts the Premier League title race
It’s never boring with us. We never look at others. A title race is only decided on the last matchday and there are so many points to collect.
Lijnders’ reactions on whether he and Klopp are concerned about how the squad will be stretched in the coming weeks, with injuries, COVID-19 issues, and Mane, Salah, and Naby Keita now departing to the Africa Cup of Nations.
You can try to plan it but you can never prepare it. It is not a worry because we have faith in the boys we have and a few boys are coming back as well. I just told the boys as well that Naby, Mo and Sadio: that they should try to win the AFCON because it is a prize to catch and the careers are never long and they deserve to fight for each prize.
Lijnders speaks about whether he is expecting the likes of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino to be available again soon.
Let’s see. Some of the boys plan to be back but they still didn’t start team training, so we have to see.
What’s next for Liverpool?
Liverpool will next face Arsenal at the Emirates for the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final clash. The Reds haven’t won the competition for a decade and this time they have a realistic chance of lifting the Cup at Wembley.