What would a Liverpool season be without some amount of self-inflicted drama? A win over fifth-placed Chelsea would’ve secured Champions League football for third-place Liverpool next season by virtue of an insurmountable goal difference between the two clubs. Instead, a drab 1-0 loss to the Londoners means that Jürgen Klopp’s ailing squad will now need a win on their final league fixture of the season at home to Brighton to guarantee that gap in league position is maintained.
The Liverpool manager’s injury situation was apparent in the team sheet, as he was forced to draft Trent Alexander-Arnold back into an unfamiliar midfield role in addition to starting a still recovering Nathaniel Clyne at right back, with both predictably struggling against Antonio Conte’s well-drilled side. Combined with a draining Champions League semifinal match in midweek as well as the sweltering London weather conditions, the listless performance from the Reds was more than understandable.
“I hate the result but the performance was good enough to get a good point,” the German said speaking to BBC Sport after the disappointing result. “It’s clear against Chelsea you have to avoid crosses, but the cross came in and it’s difficult against Giroud, and that’s the goal.
“Chelsea were strong but we did well and had a few good moments. But we weren’t clinical enough. The performance was OK but the result was exactly the opposite of what we wanted.
“We had these moments towards the end, and these high balls into the box where we were a little bit unlucky. But you cannot go to Chelsea and be shocked when you lose against them.”
Despite Liverpool being now winless in their last three matches in all competitions, it isn’t all doom and gloom for the struggling Merseysiders, as assistance from elsewhere could be forthcoming with fourth-placed Tottenham’s surprising loss to relegation-threatened West Brom on Saturday.
Indeed, the Lilywhites have the tougher run in, needing positive results against Rafa Benitez and Newcastle on Wednesday and Leicester City in a week’s time in order to keep Chelsea at bay. The Blues still also have to face Newcastle in addition to Huddersfield meaning that neither club can afford to slip in the final week of the season.
“Chelsea has to win a game as well,” Klopp continued in reminding anxious Liverpool fans. “We are at home [against Brighton] and Chelsea are at Newcastle—that doesn’t sound like a holiday trip to me.”