It was a tight thing but Liverpool kept their unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. It took a goal of the highest quality from Daniel Sturridge to equalise after Eden Hazard’s tidy finish in the first half had Chelsea leading for most of the game but it was most likely a fair result given the course of the game.
It was revenge that was being looked for by the Liverpool players going in to this game. The midweek loss in the Carabao Cup to Maurizio Sarri’s side was annoying but there was also the fact that Jurgen Klopp had changed the entire defence for that game (something I’m hoping he never does again). Virgil van Dijk, a fitness doubt in the run up to this game, was able to start alongside Gomez in what is most definitely our best centre back partnership (sorry Dejan). Otherwise it was business as usual in terms of starting line up. Nothing ‘flummoxing’ like Ian Doyle would have us believe (every week ha).
The first half was littered with chances for Liverpool but nothing really came off. Mohamed Salah was the most dangerous-looking of our front three but there still seems to be this voodoo when it comes to his finishing. Twice he cut inside from the right wing and tried to curl a shot, as he had done many times before last season, but it either went straight at the Chelsea keeper or wildly up and to the left of the goal. His goal scoring boots haven’t been found yet (3 in 7 isn’t dreadful but it isn’t Salah standard) but there is definite solace to take in the fact that he’s still getting himself into these dangerous positions and still creating good chances for himself and others. The goals will come, I have no doubt about that.
Defensively we were mostly sound.
Up until we…weren’t.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is still very, very young. He’s nineteen years old for crying out loud. He’s allowed some brain farts. Rushing out to try and tackle their midfielders when there were three of them and our midfield probably could have handled it was one of those brain farts. The Chelsea players played circles around him and Matteo Kovacic played a through ball to Hazard who was in the position Trent was meant to be. The Belgian winger ran through and slotted the ball past Alisson and into the bottom right corner. It was a mistake, a learning curve…not something worth getting angry over now. He’ll learn and next time it won’t happen.
It did mean we had to chase the game however. Half time probably wasn’t opportune because we were just building up a head of steam. It didn’t seem to harm us too much as we were just as threatening after the break, just without the scoring touch.
Salah was taken off around the hour mark with Xherdan Shaqiri being his replacement. I personally would have taken Sadio Mane off instead as I felt Salah was the more threatening of the two. There seemed to be moments after the Egyptian went off where we looked for players making the runs in behind and they just weren’t there. Shaqiri was alright, he was playing his role of finding space in the midfield and on the wings. He actually had probably our best non-chance of the match when Andy Robertson fired in a brilliant low cross and, with the goal at his mercy, Shaqiri didn’t quite connect with the ball and scuffed it wide. Would have been more annoying if what happened next didn’t occur.
85th minute saw the introduction of Daniel Sturridge for James Milner. It was a change that probably should have been made 5 or 10 minutes earlier (with the Naby Keita for Jordan Henderson change) but it didn’t matter in the end. With seemingly his first touch of the ball in the 89th minute Sturridge set himself (bear in mind this is 30 yards from goal) and curled an outstanding shot past the desperate attempts to save of Kepa and into the top right corner. I screamed…loudly. He tried a similarly spectacular effort against Chelsea in the week but it hit the crossbar. This one was inch perfect and gave the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, who’d made a brilliant reaction save to deny Mane earlier in the game, no chance of stopping it. That is what Sturridge gives the team, that unpredictability and undoubtable talent, and the main reason he has been given one last chance at Liverpool. He’s a much better option than Dominic Solanke (at the moment) and Divock Origi that’s for sure.
Naby Keita also played very well when he was introduced. He provided the threat the none of Milner, Henderson or Gini Wijnaldum provided when they were playing. He has to start against Manchester City next weekend in my opinion.
Speaking of we have two games left before the international break. First up is our second Champions League game of the season against Sarri’s former side Napoli on Wednesday night. Back to winning ways please Reds!!