Liverpool 4 – 1 Chelsea – The Postmortem 

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Liverpool’s Commanding Win Over Chelsea: A Tactical Analysis

Liverpool Dominates Chelsea with a Strategic Masterclass

This was very much a game where Liverpool decided to show their new levels of confidence and quality, after a couple of seasons of repetitive draws with Chelsea. From the opening bell, the Reds never looked like anything other than worthy winners, as the emphatic win took them five points clear of the chasing pack. Even though the West London club have spent close to a billion pounds on footballing talent (since the new owners took over), the squad remains misshapen and uncoordinated. The result mirrored the contest, as the Reds ran out comfortable winners ahead of their EFL Cup final rematch at the end of February.

Below is how the team lined up, with match details following.

The Starting Lineup and Key Performances

GK – Alisson Becker
RB – Conor Bradley
RCB – Ibrahima Konaté
LCB – Virgil van Dijk (c)
LB – Joe Gomez
RCM – Dominik Szoboszlai
CDM – Alexis Mac Allister
LCM – Curtis Jones
RF – Diogo Jota
CF – Darwin Núñez
LF – Luis Díaz

Subs
Cody Gakpo – Diogo Jota (68 mins)
Harvey Elliott – Dominik Szoboszlai (68 mins)
Andy Robertson – Joe Gomez (68 mins)
Trent Alexander Arnold – Conor Bradley (68 mins)
Bobby Clark – Curtis Jones (83 mins)

Goals

Liverpool 1 – 0 Chelsea – Diogo Jota (Conor Bradley) 23 mins

Liverpool 2 – 0 Chelsea – Conor Bradley (Luis Díaz) 39 mins

Liverpool 3 – 0 Chelsea – Dominik Szoboszlai (Conor Bradley) 65 mins

Liverpool 3 – 1 Chelsea – Christopher Nkunku (Carney Chukwuemeka) 71 mins

Liverpool 4 – 1 Chelsea – Luis Díaz (Darwin Núñez) 79 mins

Match Statistics Highlight Liverpool’s Dominance

Possession – Liverpool 51% – 49% Chelsea

Total Shots – Liverpool 28 – 4 Chelsea

Crosses – Liverpool 29 – 6 Chelsea

Corner Kicks – Liverpool 8 – 1 Chelsea

Tactical Breakdown: First Half vs. Second Half

The opening period of this game saw the home side venomously attack their visitors, with desperate intentions to grab that early goal. The lung-busting gegenpressing was relentless, as the blues struggled to keep their composure. As the minutes ticked by, so did the chances for Klopp’s men. Darwin Núñez was powerful and unplayable in the central forward position, as his movement, touch, interplay, and tenacity, overwhelmed the away side’s rearguard. Following several good attempts, eventually, one man in red found his way through to grab the game’s first goal. The eventual man of the match, Conor Bradley, won back possession superbly (on the halfway line), before galloping forward to lead yet another pulsating counterattack. The man in form, Diogo Jota, waited inside beside receiving a clinical pass from the young Northern Ireland fullback. The Portuguese poacher proceeded to barrel his way through two defenders and force the ball into the net, thus breaking the paper-thin deadlock. Before that goal, the Reds captain, Virgil van Dijk, had been embroiled in a much-disputed penalty appeal, as his collision with Conor Gallagher was deemed a non-foul by the match officials.

After some more intense pressure, the inevitable second goal arrived by way of a tremendous long-range strike across the Blues keeper, by Conor Bradley. Following some great work by the Columbian flyer, Luis Díaz, a perfectly weighted assist allowed the onrushing right back to surge towards the edge of the penalty area, before unleashing his shot into the net. As Chelsea teetered on implosion, Diogo Jota was soon fouled inside the box, which led to an easy penalty decision for the referee. Given Mohamed Salah was not present (due to injury), it was Darwin Núñez who stepped forward to take the spot kick. The former Benfica target man held a senior record of twelve goals from twelve penalties taken before this game, so it was surprising to see the Uruguayan hitman strike the outside of the post.

The half ended with the home side in full control, in a seemingly unassailable 2-0 lead.

The Second Half

On resumption of the second half, no changes were made by the Anfield management, however, Mauricio Pochettino chose to make three much-needed substitutions. After some system adjustments by the mid-table side, Liverpool wasted little time in reasserting their dominance, however, it would not be until twenty minutes into the second period that the rampant Reds would get the third goal their play so thoroughly deserved. A perfect cross-field ball by Virgil found the energized Bradley on the wing, who managed to evade his markers’ efforts and deliver a superb cross into the danger zone. The Hungarian skipper, Dominik Szoboszlai, was able to send a bullet header beyond the impressive opposing stopper, taking the score to 3-0.

Moments later, Jürgen Klopp made four proactive substitutions, to ensure the fitness of those departing (for what comes next), whilst gifting minutes to those greatly in need. The next ten minutes or so was very much a scramble to realign the team’s rhythm, something that allowed Chelsea to score an undeserved goal. Christopher Nkunku was able to gain a yard of space in the 18-yard box and drill the ball into the bottom corner. After that moment, there was yet another penalty appeal, as the Blues scorer appeared to be fouled by the Liverpool captain. Both the referee and VAR deemed the incident soft and the contest continued.

Once all new incoming reds were finally acclimatized to the occasion, order was restored and a fourth goal was added. Within a brilliant night’s work for Darwin Núñez was a continual dual with the woodwork, yet his efforts were finally rewarded by some fine attacking play and an assist for his forward line partner, Luis Díaz, who prodded home a low cross into the six-yard box. Even after this fifth goal of the game, the Anfield giants should have added more, though 4-1 was the eventual result

Reflecting on Liverpool’s Victory and Looking Ahead

This was a great result and sensational performance. The Reds could and should have scored far more, given their clear superiority and quality. The manager would have been as delighted as the excited supporters in attendance, who cheered vigorously throughout.

Arsenal are the weekend opponents that come next, as that away game could finally cement Liverpool as favourites for the Premier League crown. Every game is a must-win, even a daunting trip to the Emirates.

Pre-game prediction – Liverpool 3 – 1 Chelsea

Steven Smith

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