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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Scoreless Draw with Chelsea

Liverpool and Chelsea both needed a win to keep their faint top four hopes alive. Instead we got a fairly dull nil-nil draw.


Liverpool needed a win. Chelsea needed a win. Instead, as has so often been the case when these two sides have met in recent seasons, the end result was a low-scoring draw with the match ending 0-0 at Anfield and both sides watching the top four places slip a little further away from them as a result.

Winners and Losers

Liverpool’s Top Four Hopes

It’s almost impossible to find anyone today you could honestly say won after the final whistle blew, but there were certainly plenty who lost—and Liverpool’s top four hopes took a hit. The point they got pushes them up to eighth in the table on goal differential as they sit bunched together with Brentford and Chelsea on 29 points, but it doesn’t do much good for closing the gap on Newcastle and Manchester United, who they are at least for the time being nine and ten points back of respectively.

Newcastle play Crystal Palace later and will expect to at least return to being ten points ahead, while a win would see them end the matchweek 12 up on the Reds. United have a tougher task as they face Arsenal but will end the matchweek with at least that ten point advantage on Liverpool and also Chelsea intact.

Chelsea’s Top Four Hopes

As mediocre as Liverpool were at times, that a Chelsea team desperately needing a win and having probably been the slightly better side engaged in time wasting to try to preserve the nil-nil draw in the second half came across as almost parodic. Seriously, Chelsea, wasting time when you need a win and have edged the game? Just a massive L for the Blues.

Darwin Nuñez

If there is a silver lining and clear positive to take away from the game for the Reds, it’s Nuñez. Liverpool didn’t have much going for them in attack for most of the match, with the best chances belonging to Chelsea off set-pieces and it being difficult to tell where a goal for the hosts would come from no matter how long the match was played. Then, Darwin was introduced in the second half. Suddenly, the Reds’ attack had a pulse, the Uruguayan’s pace and physical presence causing panic in the Chelsea defence and room for his teammates.

Whether or not he scores goals, Liverpool’s attack simply looks better with him on the pitch. If he had been from the start it’s easy to imagine a more positive outcome, and if the Reds are to have any chance of fighting back into the top four race it will be because of him.

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Dissecting the Narrative

Two mid-table sides faced off on Saturday and the result felt very mid-table. Neither could really say they deserved more than a draw—though some might argue that at certain points in the match both looked as though they deserved less. If the game was, as it was built up to be by many, to serve as a bellwether to judge Liverpool and Chelsea’s top four bonafides for fans and media alike, then the narrative coming out of it will solidly fall on the side of neither side—both of whom entered the years believing they could compete for the title—very much looks like they deserve a top four place this season.

With half a season to play a lot could still change, but time is running out for both the Reds and the Blues to find their feet and their form and with every passing matchweek that they don’t their chances take a hit.

What Happens Next

The Premier League, perhaps mercifully, goes on hiatus for Liverpool as they head back to the FA Cup next week, facing a Brighton side that just embarrassed them 3-0 in the league in a Sunday early afternoon kickoff at the AmEx. February then kicks off with games against Wolves, Everton, and Newcastle in the legue before returning to Europe to face Real Madrid in the first leg of the Round of 16 on February 21st.

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