Liverpool: Mane 51’, Salah 53’
I’m VERY nervous all of a sudden. I slept fine, things were great, and then basically just before the lineups came out, my anxiety kicked in. The lineup is good, We’re strong, we could take these. Why am I so nervous? Could it be the persistent narrative about the last time we faced Chelsea in a title race? Is this when we buck our self-sabotaging ways? One can only fucking hope.
Things get started with a moment of silence to honor the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, before starting in earnest. Liverpool get into Chelsea’s area early on and make themselves at home, and Mohamed Salah has an early shot scooped up by Chelsea’s keeper five minutes in. So it’s going to be one of those matches. Not worried (maybe). Thankfully, it’s been all Liverpool in these first ten minutes, as it should be.
Chelsea have slowly gotten back into it, pushing further into our half, and the Reds are doing their chasing best to keep them from getting more dangerous. Roberto Firmino gets a decent counterattack going before being swarmed by blue shirts and knocked to his knees, but the door’s been opened. Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson are really taking their forward positions to heart, with the latter hoping to pounce and get the first goal.
And then the excitement has cooled, both teams have settled past those frantic first fifteen and are looking for the sneakiest ways to score, it feels. Hendo has been pushing and getting into great spaces, especially to pick up that ball from Salah and attempt to fire it in but it goes just over after hitting David Luiz. The Reds are doing a great job of reading Chelsea and picking up every sloppy ball from them - they just need to make something of them. But a goal will come, hopefully before the end of the half.
(We’re not going to talk about the flashback I just had when Willian had the ball on goal and no one could touch him).
There’s been some scary moments of Chelsea possession but it’s really only been that - moments. Liverpool are doing well to close them down and while we haven’t made anything of it, this whole first half has been all Reds in control. Including a HUGE chance from Sadio Mane at the 36th minute when his shot goes just wide but it would’ve been a beauty to go in. Chelsea are forced to make a change just before the 40th minute when Rudiger has to come off with what looks like a knee injury, womp womp.
Liverpool win a free kick in a great spot when Azpilicueta shoves Sadio Mane in the face and wins a yellow card for his efforts and Trent Alexander-Arnold whips it in but no one is able to get on it, unfortunately. With the way things have been going, that’s probably the last worthwhile play of the half.
Things have gotten back underway with Liverpool attacking towards the Kop, thankfully no big changes ahead of this half. I don’t have to tell you that this half means everything right now.
I started this paragraph and then - two goals in two minutes! Sadio Mane picks up a peach of a cross from Hendo to make it 1-0 and then not even two minutes later Salah sends in a curler FROM NOWHERE. The Reds are ready to make a mess of Chelsea after taking the first half to figure them out. Confidence is high, shots are coming and things are good.
Eden Hazard gets a great touch and almost finds one for Chelsea but Alisson scares the pants off him and his shot hits the post, but that’s the luckiest they’ve been all game. What a wonder a good keeper is in these big games. Things are getting wild out there as both teams get desperate for a goal - Liverpool for a third and Chelsea for anything to stop the pain.
Liverpool make their first change of the match, taking off Naby Keita (who has been fantastic) for Georginio Wijnaldum, so this is going to be even more fun. Suddenly this games turned into the type of chaos that Liverpool really know how to exploit. Things get scary there when Hendo goes down and looks in real pain, and James Milner comes on for him but he’s able to walk off and onto the bench after an incredible afternoon (with another assist) for the captain.
Klopp riling up the crowds there in these last ten minutes might be my favorite thing ever. Okay, up there with hearing the Hendo song ring through the stadium (it’s been 5 long years...) and it’s safe to say we’ve effectively silenced that terrible slip song for the time being. Sadio very nearly makes it three in the last five minutes, with a fantastic shot unfortunately right at Chelsea’s keeper that they spent all that money for. Salah then comes off for a wild powercube Xherdan Shaqiri and you just know Liverpool want one more insurance goal.
Who cares, though, because this is OUR game and OUR house and we’ve done exactly what we set out to do - RETAKE THAT GOD DAMN TABLE.
LIVERPOOL DID THE THING, IN SPECTACULAR LIVERPOOL FASHION. WE’RE STILL IN THIS AND WILL BE FOR ANOTHER DAY, AND ANOTHER WEEK.