Another solid performance by Adrian
Liverpool’s decision to sell Mignolet and quickly replace him with Adrian is looking like yet another genius move by the club. Getting an experienced goalkeeper to replace the shaky Mignolet while generating some cash looked like a smart move even before the injury to Alisson. Adrian was not expected to play much and just make rare appearances in some cup games. Why not get something for Mignolet and get someone else to warm the seat on the bench?
Alisson’s injury seemed to be a major concern initially but Adrian’s performances have shown that he is very capable of starting on this team. He made some huge saves yesterday and was the man of the match for a lot of fans. Playing behind a well organized definitely is a huge help but his command of the box in several key situations and his great timing has been great to watch. This enables Liverpool to be patient with Alisson and not rush him back in. Adrian might not be as good with distributing the ball but he is showing that he is a very solid backup and the Reds have done a great job of securing a player like Adrian for this role.
Matip-VVD duo continues to dominate
This time last year, we were singing the praises of the Gomez-VVD duo and how we were set at a top CB pairing for years to come. When Matip got his chance through the injury to Gomez, he made the most of it and seemed to get better as the year went on. The way he finished the PL season along with great performances in the Champions League earned him the starting spot this year as well. Matip has definitely made the most of it and has managed to keep his spot with great performances. He was my MOTM yesterday by dominating every ball crossed into the box.
As Klopp said after the game, Liverpool were content with Chelsea playing the diagonal passes to the backs who then crossed the ball into the box. The Reds were confident in their CBs to take good positions to clear these crosses. We are used to watching VVD tower over everyone else and make these clearances but we saw Matip doing it over and over again yesterday. Fair play to Matip to keep his head down and keep working to get his opportunity and make the most of it. This team is full of examples of players who had to wait for their turn and earn their spots… hope players like Ox and Shaqiri are watching this carefully to make the most of their chances when they come by.
In a game where the Reds struggled to create chances with their front three, they used set pieces to get their goals. Liverpool team definitely has the players to cause problems in the opponent’s box. VVD and Matip are effective CBs in these set pieces along with our already devastating front line players like Bobby and Mane. What is more impressive is how Liverpool is using different angles and ball movement to shift defenses which in turn creates openings to exploit. Surely it was Trent’s brilliant strike and the great ball into the box from Robertson that brought the goals. In both cases though, the key was the slight roll by Salah to give TAA the additional space, and the touch to Robertson that changed the entire angle of the cross as well as causing the defense to lose Bobby who was wide open to head the ball in.
A tough Napoli game combined with a lot of defending in the second half definitely wore down the Reds. Tired legs and tired minds resulted in a lot of poor passing and loss of possession. Front three was very ineffective with Salah and Mane giving it all they had but just not as sharp as they normally are. The backline was still effective but exhausted from fighting off the relentless crosses coming into the box. Chelsea’s young legs seemed to be stronger towards the end of the game and it is a rare sight to see any team match our energy.
Give credit to the Reds. Despite the visible fatigue, they fought with all they had, hung on to the lead, and the three points. Having said that, this team will definitely need the rest and the depth of the squad will have to come to the rescue midweek to take on MK Dons. Here is to hoping that the entire starting eleven will be able to take the midweek off and rest up for the next challenge.
Take the momentum back
We keep hearing that it is too early in the season, 5 point lead does not mean much, etc. I do agree that the title will not be won in week 6 but Manchester City and Liverpool have set the bar extremely high and getting three points from every game will be key. The days of seeing a draw at a tough away fixture as a good result are in the past. A draw would not have been a disastrous result but continuing the momentum and winning mindset was important.
Games after Champions League matchups are always tough and in some ways, the Reds were lucky to play a fixture against an opponent who was also battling a tough CL fixture. After watching City demolish their opponent 8-0, any point loss in this game would see the momentum shifting to City. An away win against a “Big 6” team and maintaining the 5 point lead keeps Liverpool in the driver seat and more importantly… still in charge of the radio!
It was nervy but another huge three points to keep us perfect and extend our record to 15 wins!!! YNWA!