A fortunate late goal sees Chelsea secure a 1-1 Premier League draw at Anfield for a third consecutive season…
Liverpool’s unbeaten league run against rivals Chelsea stretched to six games on Saturday evening but they were forced to settle for yet another draw – a fourth during the period.
A much-changed Reds X1, featuring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge in attack, started brightly; bossing possession and territory, with former Blues winger Mohamed Salah looking like a man with a point to prove.
However, despite their endeavour and some crisp approach play, genuine chances remained few and far between for Jürgen Klopp‘s side and Chelsea soon grew into the encounter.
Other than a late curling effort from Salah that went fractionally wide, the main moments of note in the first half came in the form of two unsuccessful penalty appeals – one at each end for challenges on Alvaro Morata and Philippe Coutinho.
Similar to Salah, Chelsea star Eden Hazard was an omnipresent source of danger with his quick feet and directness a constant outlet for the visitors.
The early stages of the second half followed a similar pattern to those of the first with the hosts dominating but struggling to unlock their opponent’s 5-3-1-1 formation.
Antonio Conte’s side started to look the more dangerous, although chiefly via the counter, around the hour mark and a ricochet off Morata almost gave them a fortunate lead.
It was Liverpool who went in front though when, moments after a fine block by César Azpilicueta had denied Sturridge, a driving run by Coutinho, facilitated by a deft touch from Oxlade-Chamberlain, set Salah through to slot past Thibaut Courtois.
The goal, coupled with a couple of positive substitutions by Conte, unsurprisingly upped the intensity and ambition of Chelsea, which initially resulted in Klopp’s men dropping too deep and rushing their defensive work.
Eventually they managed to find a better balance and for a period even looked more likely to score again than concede an equaliser.
Just as that had started to look unnecessary, the Merseysiders were pegged back when a Willian cross-cum-shot looped over Simon Mignolet and into the back of the net five minutes from time.
Salah went close to grabbing a winner in injury time but it was to finish honours even as Liverpool’s wait for a home win over Chelsea extended to seven matches in all competitions.
Despite being frustrated that his side hadn’t held on, and revealing his unhappiness with referee Michael Oliver for not permitting a substitution prior to the equaliser, Klopp declared himself content with a point.
“Very intense game,” remarked the German at his post-match press conference. “Very difficult for us against what everybody knows is a very strong Chelsea team with quite a different approach tonight; deep defending and then giving the ball to Eden Hazard.
“It was not the most thankful job I would say, to defend him alone. With the second player, more easy, with the third player you have a good chance. Alvaro Morata running around [too], so that’s quite difficult.
“We had to work really hard in these situations and stay cool in our situations of playing football and we did it, so I am happy about big parts of the performance.
“I’m really proud of the attitude but I have to say that both teams were, attitude-wise, really on a high level and I think in weeks like this it could be different, not for us and not for, unfortunately, Chelsea tonight. So both teams had a big, big investment in this game.
“So, everything was good until Willian crossed the ball. Most parts of the game are still good, but it doesn’t feel that well, that’s how it is. But the world is a strange and crazy place at the moment, there are so many much more important things that happened, crazy things are happening, so I can easily live with a point against Chelsea.”
With Tottenham Hotspur surprisingly drawing at home to West Bromwich Albion by the same scoreline, the Reds remain fifth for the time being; one point behind Spurs and three behind Chelsea.
Fixtures on Sunday could however see them drop to sixth below either Arsenal or Burnley, who meet at Turf Moor.
Liverpool are next in action on Wednesday night when then visit Stoke City.
So that’s what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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