Talking Points: Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1

A late Willian equaliser denied Liverpool what would have been a vital victory at Anfield. The goal cancelled out Mo Salah’s opener and saw the Reds miss out on the chance to move into the top four.

Draw fair result but missed opportunity for Liverpool…

Clashes between Liverpool and Chelsea have produced plenty of entertainment in recent seasons, and Saturday’s match was no different. The game featured tactically disciplined defending – particularly from Chelsea – and plenty of end-to-end charges forward from both teams. The home side enjoyed more of the possession for most of the first half but it was Chelsea who created the better chances – Simon Mignolet producing some good interventions. The second half saw Liverpool begin to look more threatening and it was man-of-the-moment Salah who found a precious bit of space in behind Chelsea’s defence to slot home. Antonio Conte made three attacking changes in response, and it was one of the substitutes Willian who looped a cross over Mignolet to deflate hopes of a Liverpool win. A draw was a fair result, with Klopp’s side coming up against a very effective Chelsea defence highlighted by Cesar Azpilecueta’s outstanding display. It will hopefully turn out to be a useful point, but on a day when Spurs dropped points at home and Man Utd won, a victory would have been terrific.

Klopp fails miserably with substitutions yet again…

It’s pretty straightforward. Conte’s substitutions earnt his side a point, while Klopp’s changes cost his side two. Klopp has been guilty on far too many occasions of getting his subs wrong – whether it be leaving them too late or subbing on and off the wrong players – and Saturday was no different. Liverpool went ahead and Gini Wijnaldum came on for Daniel Sturridge, an understandable change as Klopp looked to be more pragmatic and defend the lead, but a change that should have been followed up by a countering attacking change, especially when Chelsea really started to pile on the pressure. Liverpool needed to give their opponents something to think about and maintain an attacking presence, but this never returned. James Milner hoofing the ball clear up to nobody with plenty of time left epitomised the mess Klopp left his team in. Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane coming on with only three minutes to go was the cherry on top of the ‘Jürgen has completely lost it’ cake. Substitutions are a vital part of football, particularly in tight games, and it is quite frankly disgraceful how bad Klopp is at them.

Conceding late goals now huge issue for Reds…

Another major flaw in the current Liverpool team is the ability to concede late goals, and part of the overall problem of dropping points from winning positions. Watford away, Hoffenheim away, Sevilla home, Sevilla away and now Chelsea at home. In all of these games the Reds conceded late goals, and in all of them apart from the Hoffenheim match, these goals cost a victory. The late goals signify too much switching off and not enough mental toughness, bottle and desire to see the result through. In total Liverpool have dropped 10 points from winning positions in all competitions this season, six in the League and four in the Champions League group. Not good enough, and this needs to change, fast.

Team selection hints at rotations to come…

It was rumoured earlier in the day that it would be a very surprising team selection from Klopp, with both Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench rather than starting. This news turned out to be true, and overall the multiple changes to the starting XI probably backfired for Klopp. Joel Matip was decent and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a good game, but Sturridge struggled to make heavy involvements and Milner was simply dreadful. But these changes will be a common thing now for all teams as we head into the hectic festive schedule. Even the likes of Salah will need to be rested at some points, so it is good to see Liverpool with a bit of squad depth for once. Mane and Firmino should be reintroduced for the Stoke game, and maybe even Andy Robertson – yes remember him? – could feature.

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