Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, with goals from Lovren and Henderson handing them a first half lead and later the victory.
Jurgen Klopp made two changes to the lineup that defeated Leicester last week, Coutinho and Lovren coming in for injured Firmino and Lucas respectively.
The shape was 4-3-3 with an unchanged midfield trio of Henderson, Lallana and Wijnaldum. The front line had a change with Firmino out, Coutinho and Mane flanking Sturridge who started as a central striker. The back four had one change with Lovren partnering Matip in place of Lucas.
Let’s now switch our attention towards the tactics board and analyse few things about the game and what Liverpool’d defence could’ve done better to prevent the Chelsea goal :-
As we see in the image above, the shape of the team along with some primary movements on and off the ball.
Liverpool started the game really well, passing it around the Chelsea midfield with patience and into feet. Now this ‘into feet’ word is one which associates itself while discussing about possession football, Klopp has instilled this to all the players. This is all about each player being in good position offensively to recieve the pass, they know the pass is gonna come at their feet and can manoeuver accordingly. Chelsea dropped deeper and deeper to suck in the pressure and hit on the counter but that never happened, ball possession and control was reliable from Liverpool which frustrated the home side.
The first goal was in all honesty a bad goal for Chelsea to concede but a good one from Liverpool and from Lovren who read the situation brilliantly and got himself free in the far post and finished a difficult volley into the back of the net. The second goal was pretty much a one-man special from Henderson, it all started from Kante getting caught underneath a throw in and Cahill’s clearance being awful.
Henderson had a great game overall, he’s slowly and gradually making the no 6 position his own. The skipper covered up well for the centre-backs on few occasions, passing and playing out from deep was crisp and into feet, challenges were timed nicely and wrapped up with a fabulous goal from 30 yards. Wijnaldum had a much improved game overall on and off the ball, the Dutchman’s off the ball movement was good, in the second half he sat alongside Henderson many times to provide extra cover for the centre-backs and protect the lead in the process. On the ball, his passing range and shielding play was good too, settling into this setup quickly.
Lallana had a good game overall in pressing the Chelsea midfield and making some good runs in space to cause problems. His defensive covering was good all game except once when he really needed to be strong against Matic leading to upto Chelsea’s goal.
Let’s take that situation into the tactics board and analyse what could have been done by Liverpool’s defensive unit to prevent the goal :-
This was the situation when Matic had the ball, Lallana went too aggressively into tackling Matic to start the counter, this made it easier for the Serbian to side step a bit and take Lallana out of the equation. The pass went to Hazard and Matic ran into that gap (shown in the image) that should’ve been either filled by Lallana or Henderson. Matip couldn’t fill the gap as over his shoulder Oscar was making a good central run. So, Matic ran into that space, Hazard feeds him the ball, Matip mistimes the tackle and the ball was fed to Costa who scored Chelsea’s consolation goal.
Now, we’ll see as to how Lallana and later Matip could’ve done better to prevent this goal. Firstly, Lallana could’ve dealt with Matic much much better than he did, he could’ve stayed on his feet and waited for what the Serbian is trying to do with the ball, by doing this he could have given himself the chance to track the run of his opposite number. Instead, he went in to win the ball and made it easy to be played through. On the other hand, Matip, who had a tremendous game overall, made one mistake by sliding in early on Matic who just side stepped and fed it to Costa. As rightly discussed by Henry ,Carragher and Souness on Sky Sports, Matip could’ve done himself a favour by staying on his feet and be strong on the tackle rather than sliding and getting himself knocked out of that situation.
Overall, a good game for Liverpool, without doubt there were more positives than negatives in this game, Reds stepped up again in big away game and Klopp will be delighted to see his side defend deep and manage the game well in last 20-25 minutes. Passing was good and some of the forward movements were nice too, still some ironing needed but positive things out of this game will certainly help Liverpool grow more into this season.
By Mizgan on 17th September, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans