Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea - Mane and Mo Salah screamer send The Reds back to the top! - Match Review

in #liverpool5 years ago

Once again the pressure was ramped up on Liverpool. Not only were they facing Chelsea, the side against whom their previous title challenge in 2014 took a disastrous stumble and the final remaining top 6 opponents they will have to face this season but Manchester City had beaten Crystal Palace 1-3 reclaiming top position meaning Liverpool had to win if they were to go back ahead once again. For a while it was tense but two 2nd half goals within the space of a couple of minutes sent the Anfield crowd wild as they watched their side move back into 1st place giving them hope that this could be the season they end their long wait and see their team become Premier League champions!


Jurgen Klopp chose to stick with his most in-form players and made just 2 changes from the side who won against Porto midweek, Andy Robertson came back in to play left-back after being suspended in Europe while Joel Matip returned in central defence in place of Dejan Lovren. It meant there was no change in midfield with Fabinho playing in the deeper holding role while Henderson and Keita kept their places. There was no change up front either with Roberto Firmino playing centrally with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah out wide.

Maurizio Sarri however, switched things up quite a bit. As expected he made numerous changes from Thursday's Europa League win with Hudon-Odoi, Keita, Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz coming back into the team but rather unexpectedly Sarri left out both of his main strikers, Higuain and Giroud instead playing Eden Hazard through the middle. Sarri will have had his reasons for this but in my opinion, it was a bizarre decision. As a Liverpool fan, it was a relief to see Hazard playing central rather than out wide up against Trent Alexander-Arnold who has occasionally been exposed by wingers less talented than Hazard.


After the impeccably observed minute's silence in memory of the Hillsborough disaster, the Liverpool fans were back in full voice keen to roar their team on. It was Liverpool who had the first attempt at goal when Mane crossed the ball over for Salah to volley but the ball bounced off the turf and straight into Kepa Arrizabalagas gloves who held it comfortably. The next big chance went Chelsea's way with Hazard taking on Matip inside the Liverpool penalty area before cutting back and unleashing a shot but he didn't connect clean and Alisson gathered it. Chelsea also had what looked like a dangerous counter when Willian carried the ball forward with Hazard giving him an option, but the Brazilian tried to do it all himself and struck his shot wide. The best chance came late in the half when Liverpool broke on a counter of their own, the front three combined with Firmino playing it out to Salah who cut it inside for Mane to finish but his effort curled too far wide of the post. In the closing minutes of the half, Rudiger had to be replaced by Christensen following an injury but the tense first half came to an end with no changes to the scoreline.


A draw was no good for Liverpool but there were no signs of panic or desperation, they came out in the 2nd half playing just as they had in the previous 45 minutes and it wasn't long before they eventually took the lead. Jordan Henderson collected the ball from Salah inside the penalty area and carried it close to the byline before chipping it across goal over to the far post where Sadio Mane was left completely unmarked and able to easily head it into the back of the Chelsea net unchallenged. It was a nice finish by Mane to make it 18 for him in the league this season but it was put on a plate for him by Jordan Henderson who has really started to shine in recent games when being allowed to play further forward.

The Anfield crowd were still celebrating the goal when just 2 minutes later Mo Salah struck a rocket of a shot into the corner of the net to well and truly blow the roof off the stadium. Virgil van Dijk gathered the ball on the halfway line and played a diagonal ball forward to Salah over on the right wing. The Egyptian brought the ball down, took a touch to bring the ball away from Emerson and then hit an absolute belter into the far side of the goal from 25 yards out, Arrizabalaga dove to save it but it was struck with so much power the Chelsea keeper was unable to get anywhere near it before it went beyond him and into the net. His form took a dip in recent months and he struggled to find the back of the net but after ending his drought last time out against Southampton Salah is well and truly back.


After Salah's screamer, the game seemed to open up and following the goal was a few minutes of chaos, with Chelsea getting a host of chances they should have really put away. Following a cleared corner the ball was played back by Emerson to Hazard who found himself in the Liverpool penalty area one on one with the Liverpool keeper. The Belgian took a touch and struck the ball low past Alisson but his shot clipped the frame of the goal and bounced clear. Minutes later Chelsea's main man had another chance when Willian crossed the ball into the box where Hazard was unmarked and guided the ball towards goal, this time though Alisson wasn't to be beaten and the Liverpool keeper got down low to block the shot away to where Van Dijk could smash it clear.

Had either chance gone in it may have changed the outcome of the game dramatically, but Liverpool held on and eventually managed to restore some order by keeping the ball and lowering the tempo. From around the 65th minute Liverpool was in cruise control, keeping it tight and allowing Chelsea to have no more chances to get back into the game. Salah, Alexander Arnold and Mane all had chances to add a third for Liverpool but all were denied by Arrizabalaga. There was a moment late on that had Liverpool fans hearts in their mouth when Andy Robertson slipped over when trying to cut back inside and lost possession to Higuain. It was reminiscent of Gerrard slipping allowing Demba Ba to run through at goal but luckily disaster was averted, this time Liverpool hand plenty of cover and Higuain played the ball across to Hazard and the move ultimately lead to nothing.


It was a massive result and goes a long way to banish the demons of 2014 when Liverpool's title hunt was denied after the game ended with the scoreline reversed and Chelsea winning 0-2. The win sees Liverpool once again move back to the top of the league on 85 points 2 points clear of City who have played a game less. While the bookies will still see City as favourites to win the league I truly believe it is now 50/50. This was Liverpool's final major obstacle with them now only having to face Cardiff, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Wolves while Manchester City has a much more difficult run-in. If City wins all there remaining fixtures there is nothing Liverpool can do to stop them but they have still to play Manchester United, Tottenham as well as an in-form Burnley as well as Leicester and Brighton, any points dropped from those 5 remaining games and the door will be open for Liverpool.

Up next Liverpool will switch their attention back to the Champions League when they visit Porto in the 2nd leg of their tie with The Reds leading 2-0 from the first game. Following that game, on Wednesday they visit Cardiff in the league while Manchester City faces back to back games against Spurs.


Chelsea is not in a great form

They started the season so brilliantly too. It will be an interesting battle for 3rd and 4th place!

This was a massive result and what worries me is they tend to botch things up. There are still some tricky games left as everyone is fighting for survival as well. You have to take it a game at a time now as each one will be like a cup final.

This time does feel different from previous years when they have botched it up.

I hope you are right as I normally expect the unexpected.

Enjoy the glory while you can my friend as although I'd infinitely prefer Liverpool to take the title away from Scum City, the greatest team in the world will be returning to the Premiership next season to shake things up and challenge for the honours.
Enjoy the victories whilst you can my friend ;-)

Excellent write-up by the way!

Haha, Thanks.

I always enjoyed our games against Leeds, you beat us a couple of times and I won't ever forget Viduka scoring 4 against us but for the most part, they are fond memories.

Yes that was always the thing, we always seemed to have that competitiveness but also a mutual respect. Here in Thailand, Liverpool are probably the most supported Prdmier League team.,They are so passionate about Liverpool and when I came back for a visit with a couple of families of Thai friends last year, all the two guys wanted to do was go to Anfield, so we did the tour. They were ecstatic!

One of them has flights booked for May simply to go and see the tour around the city when they lift the title and has also bought a Schengen visa so if needs be he can get to Madrid for the Champions League final. He's not a particularly wealthy guy and his wife is currently barely speaking to him but this is his dream as he was too young to remember the Liverpool glory days in the late 70s and 80s and couldn't afford to travel in 2005 lol....Don't let him down please :-)

Haha your friend sounds amazing! Hopefully, he will be celebrating in Liverpool with us and in Spain. It will be a wild party atmosphere if Liverpool win either trophy at the end of the season.

Liverpool is going very good @jclark!
How are your hopes for the title? It is very exciting :)
Thanks for this nice review again ;)

Thank you for your support.

It's definitely exciting, I feel that it is 50-50. Liverpool is still relying on Man City dropping points but they have some tough fixtures.

Hi jclark,

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