After Manchester City dispatched Crystal Palace, all eyes turned to Liverpool, to see whether Jürgen Klopp’s side could hold serve. To do so, they would have to beat Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, who have been working their way towards stability and consistency.
But there was another opponent lurking, namely the specter of having Chelsea derail yet another Liverpool title challenge at Anfield. Thankfully for Liverpool supporters, this particular side was having none of that particular narrative. A three minute spell in the second half featuring goals from Sadio Mané and a spectacular effort from Mo Salah banished that particular ghost, and the magical force field around Alisson’s goal in the remainder of the match only served to amplify the sense of destiny.
Now join us as we examine some of the narratives, tactics, reactions, and questions Liverpool will be dealing with and the fans will be talking about in the aftermath.
Winners and Losers
Singers. The Gerrard/Ba song is arguably a staple of the Chelsea supporter’s songbook. Regardless of what happens over the final weeks of the season, this result is going to take some of the joy out of this song for the Chelsea faithful. Just kidding, they will probably continue to sing it regardless of whether or not it’s relevant.
Jordan Henderson. The skipper has really silenced many critics over the past few weeks, including some who would prefer to see him alongside James Milner on the bench. The midfield trio put in a fantastic collective effort against Chelsea, but Henderson’s performance should finally put an end to the whole “only-passes-backwards” nonsense.
Arsenal and Manchester United. Both of these clubs remain poised to leapfrog Chelsea in the table, with games in hand. In the league, Arsenal will make a trip to Watford next, while United take on Everton. These two clubs were left for dead in the race for top four spots not that long ago, and today’s result suggests things will go right down to the wire for everyone.
Mohamed Salah. He had an excellent all-round game today, despite a few efforts not quite coming off. But the goal he did end up scoring has all the makings of something that could go down in history. We’ll learn very soon just how significant that goal was.
Dissecting the Narrative
Well, I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that this win allowed Liverpool to slip even farther away from the chasing pack and stick close to Manchester City. Chelsea, for their part, may have conversely slipped slightly in their chase for a top four spot, allowing Manchester United and Arsenal a glimpse of the promised land. Sarri, a slippery customer in press conferences, noted optimistically that “[w]e are improving, it’s hard to cover the gap because the level is high and to cover it against Liverpool and City for us will be difficult. Now we are close to the other teams.”
Slipping on those red-tinted glasses for a moment, this result might arguably have slipped some doubt into the heads over at Manchester City - who, we should remember, are still poised to come out on top, assuming they don’t slip up themselves. The architect of that doubt and unease for City was Salah, who, lest we forget, was the focus of racist invective from Chelsea supporters during the week. Just wanted to slip that in there in case people forgot.
How The Fans Reacted
Liverpool fans and observers focused on the important stuff following this match. The game behind the game, as they say.
Klopp also says the wind helped Liverpool second half.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 14, 2019
This was true of the pundits as well. Yes, Salah scored a stunner, but man does not live by YouTube clips alone.
The most important message, however, may have come from the boss himself.
Klopp: "And we didn't lose it here or there or this or that game. Very smart people will come out and 'yeah, if you would have won against Leicester then you would be champions now' and stuff like that. It’s all bullshit. Only weak people and idiots bring something like this up."— James Nalton (@JDNalton) April 14, 2019
What Happens Next
Liverpool will travel to Porto to keep their Champions League campaign on track, which will be followed by another trip, this time to Cardiff City. What happens next for Maurizio Sarri? I’m not sure, but I suspect a cigarette might be involved.
What happens next for Liverpool supporters? Perhaps a bit of singing?
What happens next for Chelsea’s top four push? Well . . .