In what was mostly a cautious affair at Anfield on Saturday, Liverpool and Chelsea shared the spoils in a goalless draw, each unable to find that combination of spark and just a bit of luck to net what would likely have been a crucial goal. There were, however, a few aspects of the game worth taking note of, and while neither will have been too happy with the outcome, there were things for both managers to take away from the game.
Liverpool and defending set-pieces
Much has been said about the notable lack of fresh legs in the middle of the park for Liverpool, and it has been mostly pointed out as the main reason for their underwhelming results and disappointing standings this season. However, the way they defend set-pieces, particularly since Virgil van Dijk has been out of action, is certainly something Jurgen Klopp and his staff will want to analyze and improve as soon as possible, lest it remains a great burden around their necks pulling them down as the season progresses.
This time they got away with it, got away being the operative expression here.
Minute three was running when, following a corner where newcomer Benoit Badiashile won the ball, Kai Havertz took advantage of a complete lack of decisiveness inside Liverpool’s six-yard box to pound home a rebound after Thiago Silva hit the post from close range. It was a double feature of luck for the Reds; firstly, that Silva didn’t score from there, and secondly, that Havertz was narrowly offside when the Brazilian centre-back fired his shot at the post. The linesman didn’t react, but the VAR did and the joy of the away supporters was short-lived.
In the 32nd minute, Hakim Ziyech whipped in a free-kick from the left and Badiashile was again the most alert one in Liverpool’s box, with the ball bouncing off the ground and successfully avoiding intervention attempts from Thiago Alcantara, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate to find him on the far post. This time it was Alisson Becker whose good positioning and excellent reflexes saved the home side from going down, stopping the former AS Monaco defender from netting his first Premier League goal.
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Less than a…