The Reds should have won today.
I don’t think anyone will take issue with this statement. Going into the second half, after the justified ejection of Reece James from the game and Salah’s cool-headed penalty equalizer, it felt inevitable that Liverpool would score at least a couple more goals. Between us, I thought that it might end up 4-1 or 5-1. Yes, Chelsea kept its brilliant defensive shape throughout the game, but in the first half, when the player count was even, Liverpool still found its way into a couple of clear opportunities, and looked mighty dangerous otherwise. Hendo’s horrendous miss was, perhaps, the clue that things were not meant to be. Eliot, too, should have buried his chance.
Alas, the best laid plans…
Somehow, even though Chelsea more or less disappeared for the second half, instead of surging the Reds seemed to grow a little more nervous in that final touch, a problem that has plagued them before. The same pattern emerged; Mane became wasteful, stunting the most effective route into the box, and barring a couple of threatening long-distance scorchers from the Terminator and Big Virg, the threat slowly dissipated. The blues sensed this, and settled in, and even managed to look more poised to bite than Liverpool did on the couple of occasions when they managed to counter.
There is some advantage to being the reigning European champions, if just simply in confidence.
Even so, for significant stretches of this game, Liverpool looked lively, and perhaps exemplifying that more than any other player was young Harvey Eliot. He quieted down some in the second half, and it is perhaps telling that the team seemed to quiet down, in terms of positivity going forward, together with him. That’s a fairly remarkable statement to make about such a young player, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop. Arlo white suggested that Eliot has Messi-anic qualities to him, and that may be stretching it a bit, but who am I to argue?
With all of that, I find it hard to single out any Liverpool player for a truly inspiring performance, especially considering that it is a draw that feels rather like a loss. Instead, I will point to one player on the opposite side that did such an outstanding job at frustrating the Liverpool attack, nullifying much of its potency, that he may well be the real reason this game didn’t end in a more City-esque scoreline. Reluctantly, Jorginho earns my man-of-the-match.
Stamford bridge may be a tad harder.