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Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea: 6 Conclusions
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea: 6 Conclusions

Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea: 6 Conclusions

Written by Gideon Sarpong
  1. 1) ‘Is Jurgen Klopp a Messiah or a myth?’ asked one prominent website in February 2018. It is a headline that, little over 12 months on, seems almost certainly satirical, the sort one might find in a particularly uninspiring version of The Onion.

Yet such questions were genuinely being asked with Liverpool three months removed from a Champions League final. That Klopp had matched predecessor Brendan Rodgers’ record of 70 wins from his first 135 games in charge was being used as a stick to beat him with. Not long before that, Klopp’s reign was even being unfavourably compared with that of David Moyes at Manchester United.

Those detractors have been silent – or, rather, silenced – for some time. Klopp has now won 112 of his first 200 games as Liverpool manager, has recorded the club’s fifth-highest English top-flight points tally in a single season with four games still to play, and has equalled their record for most league wins in a single campaign.

He is neither Messiah nor myth; he is just a damn good football manager. Liverpool cannot change that for the worse over their next four league games, but they can make it an awful lot better.

2) Not that this was a performance to delight a manager who demands no less than for his messages be heeded to the letter. There were moments, especially at 2-0 up, that Klopp was apoplectic on the touchline as his players threatened to be carried away on the wave of an immense home support.

Liverpool played better with the scores level than they did in the ten minutes after earning a two-goal advantage. Passes went awry, Roberto Firmino started attempting random Rabonas and Andy Robertson was still charging recklessly into the Chelsea area to leave the hosts completely exposed to the counter-attack. Their game management was terrible until they eventually settled.

But it was endearing, and the result of a collective release of colossal pressure after a few day’s worth of build-up. That Klopp will be eager to eradicate such emotional play exemplifies just how high his and Liverpool’s standards have become.

3) Chelsea were unfortunate in that an excellent first half was cancelled out by two suicidal second-half minutes, at which point a result seemed beyond them. They still had their chances but know all too well the pain of failing to capitalise on a situation.

Maurizio Sarri will likely be hammered for his team selection and tactics as even the worm appears to have turned against what has actually been a respectable debut season at Chelsea. But it is worth remembering that he delivered a starting line-up with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Emerson Palmieri, that the Blues were the better side in the first half, and that playing Liverpool at Anfield really is the most difficult fixture of this Premier League season.

Some defeats can be blamed on the manager. Others see players, either as individuals or the collective, shoulder responsibility. But there are a handful of losses throughout the season that can only be attributed to one thing: the opposition simply are – and were – better.