Klopp’s big-game nous and Chelsea’s heartbeat - here’s what we learned from last night’s clash.
The critics will moan about Liverpool’s defeats to the likes of Wolves, but when it comes to the big games there can be no denying Jurgen Klopp gets it right. He has now played Arsenal, Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs and Spurs 15 times in the Premier League since taking charge at Anfield, with just one loss. That is a record few managers can rival and as his Liverpool team continues to grow it will no doubt stand them in good stead.
Last night was no exception as Klopp rallied his troops to earn a point when defeat looked likely.
It is safe to say last night was a match of mixed emotions for Simon Mignolet. One minute the Belgian wanted the Anfield turf to swallow him up, the next he was the darling of the Kop.
Retweeted LIVERPOOL INDONESIAN (@LFC_INDONESIAN):
But while many may laud Mignolet’s penalty heroics, it should not mask the bigger picture when it comes to Liverpool’s goalkeeping situation. The Belgian was so flat footed for Chelsea’s opening goal and while he may moan he was setting up his wall as David Luiz’s free-kick flew past him, the fact is referee Mark Clattenburg had blown his whistle a good four seconds before. Such a lapse cannot happen when you play for a club like Liverpool and Klopp must look for a new goalkeeper this summer.
There were more than a few eyebrows raised when Chelsea forked out so much money to bring David Luiz back to Stamford Bridge in the summer from Paris Saint- Germain, but on current evidence it has proved a masterstroke. The Brazilian, who was heavily criticised during his first stint in England to the point Gary Neville claimed he played like he was controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation, has looked rejuvenated in the middle of Chelsea’s back three. He was again superb last night. As for his cleverly taken free-kick, well that was merely the icing on the cake.
For all the creativity and tricky the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino give Liverpool, it is not hard to see how much they are missing Sadio Mane. The winger provides Jurgen Klopp’s side with the blistering pace they otherwise lack. Mane’s presence forces opposition defences to drop deep, through a fear he will catch them out in behind, and that in turn provides space for the likes of Coutinho and Firmino to thrive. It is no coincidence Liverpool didn’t win a Premier League game while Mane was at the African Cup of Nations and now he is back Klopp will be desperate to get him involved from the start.
He was the key cog in Leicester’s march to the Premier League title last season and, on last night’s showing, N’Golo Kante could be about to pick up another medal. The Frenchman has slotted seamlessly into Conte’s 3-4-3 system and, while Liverpool were attempting to run riot, the midfielder continued to break up play. Kante may not make any highlight reels for assists and goals, but his calming influence in the middle has been key to Chelsea’s success. Just ask any Leicester fan how much they miss him.
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