Chelsea 2 - 0 Liverpool
Chelsea: Willian 13’, Barkley 64’
It’s not the strongest line-up Jurgen Klopp can run out, but equally, not the weakest. Youth players Neco Williams and Curtis Jones take their earned spots in the starting XI after excellent showings so far in the FA Cup. Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi also get starts in the front three, alongside the one and only Sadio Mane. It should be an interesting one!
If you were hoping for a response by the Reds, they showed one right from the off. Liverpool nearly get in a couple of times, from some patented Kloppo gengenpressing. The ball falls kindly to Sadio Mane near the penalty spot, and despite being able to take a touch and sort his feet, he hits it directly at the keeper.
Chelsea respond by creating a big chance of their own from a counter attack, and then immediately thereafter from a corner. Olivier Giroud is inches away from nodding home an effort from close range. There are goals to be had out there tonight.
Goal. Willian nets for Chelsea after a cheap give away from Fabinho. Adrian should have done better, but the shot from outside the box was hit with some venom, and the backup keeper couldn’t hold on.
Kepa just made a quadruple save and like...I seriously don’t know how we didn’t equalize there.
With half an hour gone, Sadio Mane creates another good chance by wiggling through the Chelsea defense and working Kepa far post. Unfortunately, he was up to the challenge yet again, and Williams could not turn the follow-up on target.
Goal aside, the mixed batch of Reds made a pretty good account of themselves in the first half. Liverpool have more shots inside the box, more on target, and more big chances. Unfortunately, their finishing is letting them down. That said, Mane is a looking a constant threat, and Minamino is looking like the exciting player we signed from Salzburg. Liverpool are very much in this at the break, they just need to find their finishing boots (and/or bring on Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah) in the second half.
It’s a pretty tame opening few minutes of the second half, but I feel the need to work in a special shout-out to Curtis Jones, who has not looked out of place in this midfield. The young Scouse academy player has been sharp, full of confidence, and doing all sorts of nifty things in attack.
Close! Fabinho gives away a free kick in a dangerous area, and the resulting free kick rattles the crossbar before going safely over. Liverpool are riding their luck at the moment.
Goal. What did I say about Liverpool riding their luck. Van Dijk and Jones conspire to give the ball away, and Chelsea breaks with pace. Gomez does not close down Barkley, and the former Everton man hits a thunderous strike from outside the box to beat Adrian.
Moments later, Chelsea should have made it 3-0 when Pedro goes through on goal. This losing business isn’t fun. Please stop it, Liverpool.
With just over 20 minutes to play, Jurgen Klopp is bringing on Roberto Firmino and James Milner for Divock Origi and Curtis Jones. Probably about 10 minutes too late, but here we are.
Chelsea, frustratingly, continue to look more dangerous in this second half. Giroud just beat the offside trap and rattled the post. Probably should have scored. Yikes.
Klopp makes a last roll of the dice, bringing in Mo Salah for Adam Lallana. Please do something, Mo. Or anyone in Red. I’m not picky.
It’s hard to read too much into this result because of the highly-changed side, but on the surface it doesn’t look good. And Liverpool are once again out of this historic competition, which is really a shame considering how good the full-strength Reds can be. Hopefully Klopp can turn things around by the weekend, and certainly by the time Atletico come rolling into town.