The 1,000th match of Jurgen Klopp’s coaching career will not be remembered fondly, if at all. “I heard Arsene Wenger lost his 1,000th match 6-0 so I’m really glad that didn’t happen.” Liverpool said the manager. Klopp was determined to highlight the positives despite his team and Chelsea, explaining why Champions League qualification has slipped past.
A goalless draw at a frigid Anfield did nothing to validate talk of a revival from Klopp or Graham Potter, although both grabbed any crumbs of encouragement they could find. For Chelsea, who run six Premier League Away games without a win were their worst in more than seven years, they came in an impressive second-half display from £88m new signing Mikhailo Modric and another solid defensive performance from 38-year-old Thiago Silva. For Liverpool, who remain winless in the league in 2023, it was the second consecutive clean sheet and Darwin Nunez’s return to fitness. Really little leftovers.
“It was really good” Chelsea The manager said about Modric. “He will improve whenever he is with us, but there were promising signs. He only had two sessions with us, but from watching him with Shakhtar he is dangerous in one match, he makes things happen in the last third, and he gets the fans out of their seats and he knows where the goal is.”
Kai Havertz scored an early goal that was disallowed by the VAR, but it was a rare incident in a match of little quality. The usual game stakes were already lowered before Liverpool and Chelsea started ten points clear of the top four in ninth and tenth respectively.
Klopp explained: “For me, it’s obvious, you have to take small steps and that’s it. I expect progress and from the last league game it was definitely progress. We defended with passion, which we didn’t do two weeks ago, and that’s important. Normally one point against Chelsea is not a result.” Bad but I feel everyone is thinking. ‘How can you not beat them?’ They will win many games, believe me. I saw good signs. Now we have to do the good things better and for longer. I’m sure they will go in that direction.”
Havertz took possession of the ball against Liverpool after only three minutes, and the features of the match may have changed had it not been for the video assistant referee, who canceled the strike on the grounds of offside. But maybe not. The hosts struggled with crosses in their area from the start. Chelsea newcomer Benoit Badiachel was left unmarked in the first corner of the game, off Conor Gallagher, and his touch fell for Silva to hit the base of the post from close range. Havertz converted the rebound and Liverpool conceded first again. They were held off when, with Chelsea’s celebrations over and teams preparing to restart, the VAR found the scorer to be in an offside position.
Klopp rightly rewarded Stefan Bagcetic and Harvey Elliott in the starting roles for their contributions to the midweek FA Cup win over Wolverhampton. The Liverpool boss also kept his faith in the same midfield trio who brought more strength and energy to the team after the shocking defeat at Brighton, at the expense of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, while James Milner was preferred at right-back over Trent Alexander-Arnold. The end product was perfectly encapsulated by Klopp’s face when the half-time whistle blew, the image of undisguised rage on possession was lost and his side failed to trouble Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.
There was more power and purpose from Liverpool after the break, presumably after some home facts from Klopp. Mudryk made an immediate impression, showing good footwork to break away from Liverpool defenders in tight space before finding the side-netting. Milner, who was booked for the Ukraine international’s draw, was replaced by Alexander-Arnold after Modric ran him off once too often.
Hakim Ziyech fired at the end of a superb display through the Liverpool defence, and Alexander-Arnold tipped Nunez’s cross well in from the crossbar. But not a game event that got the hit it deserved.
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