Three talking points as Chelsea denied Liverpool at Anfield
A late strike by Willian denied Liverpool victory over Chelsea in the Premier League’s televised Saturday evening game. The in-form Mohamed Salah had fired the his side in front against his former club on 65 minutes, as the Reds looked to bounce back from their Champions League collapse to Sevilla in midweek. But with just five minutes remaining, Willian’s hopeful chip somehow looped over Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to rescue a draw and keep them three points ahead of their opponents. Here are three talking points from a gripping contest at Anfield.
Sublime Salah proves a point to Chelsea
The Egyptian went into this weekend’s round of fixtures as the Premier League’s leading scorer – and he netted again with his 10th of the season. Salah has been a revelation since joining from Roma in the summer, fitting perfectly into Jurgen Klopp’s side and giving Liverpool an extra dimension. The goal itself owed to the 25-year-old’s finishing prowess as he latched on to a through ball from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before tucking it past Thibaut Courtois.
Salah would have been keen to show Chelsea that they were wrong to discard him and his all-round performance was enough to earn him the man-of-the-match award. He refused to celebrate his goal, although this may have been out of respect to those who lost their lives in a terrorist attack in his homeland.
Antonio Conte goes on the defensive
Antonio Conte had been critical of this game’s scheduling, which came less than 72 hours after his side’s Champions League fixture with Qarabag in Azerbaijan. And the Italian made changes to his side, including the surprise inclusion of Danny Drinkwater, who made his first start in a Chelsea shirt. The Blues had a defensive look about them, with N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko joining the Englishman in midfield.
Once Liverpool had gone in front, Conte had no choice but to change tactics and introduced of Willian and Cesc Fabregas. Suddenly, Chelsea were much more dangerous and they got their reward, albeit rather fortuitously, through the Brazilian’s cross-cum-shot late on. Conte’s delight was clear to see as he escaped Anfield with a precious point.
Daniel Sturridge fails his audition
Conte was not the only one who sprung a surprise with his line-up. Klopp also rang the changes, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge given the nod over Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. If this was an audition for Sturridge to prove he has a future under Klopp, it was not one he passed with flying colours.
Whereas the likes of Mane and Salah look at home under the former Borussia Dortmund boss, the England striker still seems a little lost. He is undoubtedly a wonderfully gifted footballer, but Klopp demands more from his attacking players than Sturridge is providing. With Adam Lallana returning to full fitness – he came on as a second-half substitute – Sturridge could find himself even further down the pecking order or even out of the exit door.