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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Match review: The title looks destined for Manchester as Liverpool draw at Chelsea

It is crazy to say that it is not crazy to give the title up in January but these days that is the stark reality.

The definition of a must win for both teams as Chelsea welcomed Liverpool to Stamford Bridge for a battle between 2nd and 3rd place. 

A draw helps only one team and puts light blue ribbons on the Premier League trophy already.

So it is a sickening feeling for both that the match finished even.

Of course, neither of these sides will accept defeat otherwise they would not be as excellent as they are but Chelsea are ten points off the pace and Liverpool are 11, Manchester City are already running away with it.

Liverpool gave their supporters hope by storming into an unlikely two goal lead in the first 26 minutes but then that hope was stolen away and given to the Chelsea fans before the half was up.

One extreme emotion to the other.

The beauty of football when you go from despair to ecstasy but when it is other way round it encapsulates every reason why you hate the sport you adore so much and that is exactly what happened to every Liverpool supporter on the planet.

Mo Salah had a massive chance in the opening stages which was parried out by Edouard Mendy so the signs were there that this game will be identical to the Tottenham spectacle.

Open, fast, chaotic and fun but only for the neutral.

Then a few minutes later Sadio Mane capitalised on a mistake by Trevoh Chaloboah and took the ball round Mendy to get the early goal that both sides craved.

That did not dishearten Chelsea who started very well, and they did not stop getting at Liverpool’s backline which was missing Alisson Becker, Joel Matip and Andy Robertson through Covid and or suspension.

Stamford Bridge were getting behind their side until they were silenced by Mohamed Salah who portrayed his brilliance for the world to see for the umpteenth time this season.

He started the move and finished the move by getting a lovely ball off Alexander-Arnold and selling Marcos Alonso a dream then making a fool out of Mendy by defeating him at his near post.

Liverpool then had something big to lose, something significant to hold onto, something you couldn’t possibly throw away.

But how they threw it away.

Five minutes before half-time the experienced James Milner gives away a childish free-kick.

Caoimhin Kelleher, who was faultless all game, punched the free-kick out towards the edge of the box, danger over for now you would think.

You would never have been so wrong.

Mateo Kovacic connected with the ball like no other time in his career to hit the most perfect first time volley you will ever likely see.

The Croatian will never hit a ball as sweetly for the rest of his playing days.

Tuchel’s men were back in it, they were never really out of it even at two down which was the concerning thing for Liverpool.

No composure at the back, no control in the middle, no sustainability in attacks up top.

Jurgen Klopp will have been shouting at his tele at home, get to half-time.

Half-time with a 2-1 lead would have been ok.

Getting to half-time with a 2-1 lead is precisely what Liverpool did not do.

It had been chaos all half, but the last five minutes turned into disarray for The Reds and Chelsea did capitalise through Christian Pulisic.

The backline was all over the place as Pulisic was allowed to be played through on goal and fire past Kelleher.

2-2 the score line that both sides knew would do no help at all.

There were chances in the second half for both sides but the intensity of the first half had slightly ebbed away just like both of these teams titles hopes, game by game slowly but surely ebbing away.

A torturous feeling.

As soon as Diogo Jota was substituted off in the 69th minute everyone knew Liverpool were for some reason happy with a draw.

And that is what it was.

So now Liverpool are without Naby Keita, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah as they jet off for AFCON.

The League Cup semi-final is up next against Arsenal on Thursday.

A trophy that is up for grabs but with a depleted side and a manager at home with COVID.

It shall be interesting to say the least.

READ MORE: Player ratings: Leicester get their revenge as Liverpool suffer defeat at the King Power stadium

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