Chelsea have beaten Liverpool at the Stamford Bridge and keep their top 4 hopes alive.
The Blues managed to won their first game against Liverpool in four years thanks to Olivier Giroud’s header from the first half. It’s obvious that the Frenchmen loves playing against Liverpool because this was his fifth goal in his last six Premier League starts against the Reds.
Liverpool went into this game after a lucky defeat against Roma (4-2), which helped them secure their ticket to Champions League final in Kiev where they will play against Real Madrid.
Jurgen Klopp made only one change with Nathaniel Clyne starting the game on the right back. Jordan Henderson stayed on the bench, and Trent Alexander Arnold was his replacement in the midfield.
On the other side, Antonio Conte started with his 3-5-2 formation with Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud leading the attack.
From the first minutes of the game, it was clear that Conte wanted to nullify Liverpool’s attacking trio. So, he decided to sit back and wait for the counters.
Liverpool accepted their role to run the show through the possession and once again proved that they don’t know how to do that. From the first whistle they went all out attack instead of staying deep on their half and waiting for the mistakes, because they needed only a draw.
Conte knew what Liverpool’s weakness were, so he flooded the midfield with 3 players to win the battle. Fabregas, Kante and Bakayoko totally outplayed Liverpool’s midfield which is definitely lacking of freshness mostly because of the injuries (Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Emre Can).
Chelsea were defending very well all the time, so Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane barely affected the game. The only attacker that can get the passing grade is Mane who had some very good runs and shots, especially in the first half.
On the other side, Firmino and Salah were totally invisible, especially Salah who probably had his worst game since arriving at Liverpool.
The lack of space, tiredness, tactical inflexibility and a weak bench were the main reasons for Liverpool’s defeat against Chelsea. Antonio Conte knew that the key to win this game was to stop their attacking force and that is exactly what he did.
The Reds missed the chance to win a point which would help them secure their place in the Champions League next season and so they made life difficult for themselves. But, they are still in a good position because they play against Brighton at the Anfield on the last day of this season.
This is going to be their first crucial encounter out of the remaining two. However, Liverpool’s bad form in the recent league games should sound the alarm to wake up and finish the season in style.
Written by Rijad Abaza
Follow Rijad on Twitter @RijadAbaza
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