Saturday’s clash between Sarri’s Chelsea and Klopp’s Liverpool ended up as a thrilling 1-1 draw as Liverpool responded to Hazard’s classy finish with a screamer from Sturridge – who has been eclipsed by the famous front three since the start of the season. Here in this tactical analysis, I will be trying to underline the talking points and key moments of the game with the help of Wyscout analysis tools and statistics.
There was no big surprise in the line-ups and for both sides as the managers preferred their regular formations in 4-3-3. The game started with a great tempo as Liverpool tried to press high up the pitch to win the ball quickly and attack with decent pace. They tried to stop Jorginho – the orchestrator of Sarri’s side – from picking up the ball and distributing it comfortably.
As clearly seen in the graphic above, the front three tried to press high up the pitch constantly throughout the game and forced the goalkeeper to play some long balls to full-backs which eventually led to Liverpool’s counter-attacks. Roberto Firmino was – once again – playing a massive role in blocking the goalkeeper’s passing channels to Jorginho. Jordan Henderson did well defensively as he helped the front three quite significantly along with Wijnaldum and Milner in an effort to stop Chelsea’s playing out from the back. David Luiz was successful in some of his long balls to Willian who caused some troubles for Andrew Robertson on the left, though. In the graphic below, you can see the Liverpool midfielders’ contribution to pressing and causing problems for Jorginho to pick up the ball and distributing it comfortably. They were successful in most of these moments and this led to some decent chances in the final third for the Liverpool side:
It was the first time in the 25. minute that Chelsea were able to play out from the back brilliantly thanks to Hazard’s involvement in midfield. A perfect one-two with Kovacic started it all and Jorginho’s one beautiful simple touch caught the eye before Kovacic sent a through ball to Chelsea’s talisman Eden Hazard who performed his top-class finishing at the end to make it 1-0 to Chelsea. Until then, Liverpool made Chelsea look poor in setting up a decent play but Sarri’s side found a way to distract the Liverpool defence and they exploited the space in Arnold’s territory as you can see below:
As a precaution to lethal Liverpool counter-attacks, Sarri did not prefer to press high up the pitch. They let Liverpool have the possession and tried to set up a decent defence but Liverpool opted to play some long balls in most of these moments and they lost possession way too earlier – before creating some significant chances. Even though they tried to stay back, Liverpool created spaces in the final third, especially in Azpilicueta’s flank, but they failed to make something out of them. Here is a great example to those attacks as Trent Arnold could not see the space in that area where Milner was making a run to and he preferred to send the ball to Sadio Mane. Mane’s effort was not bad but it could have been a wiser act to send the ball to where Milner was running through:
Chelsea had a couple of chances to make it 2-0 with Hazard and David Luiz’s long balls to Willian on the right, in the second half. While Jorginho was being closed down by the Liverpool players, Kante was the Chelsea man who opted to set up Chelsea attacks and he was successful in creating decent opportunities for Eden Hazard. The French international’s role changed significantly under Sarri and he started to show his passing skills he had demonstrated at Leicester. Liverpool’s midfield failed to find a solution to this slight change in Chelsea’s plans and this caused some problems in defending.
Liverpool tried some long balls in the second half to create chances as Firmino and the others struggled to keep the ball. The Brazillian hard-worker could not get the passes he wished throughout the game in fact, but in the second half he looked a bit lost. Another important point was that Henderson did not have a game to forget, but after Keita came on we were able to see a more dynamic midfield and his contributions to attacks were far better than Henderson. Liverpool could have scored an equaliser before Sturridge’s late wonder goal but after Klopp changed to a 4-2-4, they had one more striker for the Chelsea defenders to deal with and when no one expected such a shot from him, he delivered an absolute beauty.
A very entertaining game ended up as a draw and there were a lot of positives for the Liverpool side although they had problems from time to time. Taking into consideration that Chelsea are one of the most dangerous sides of the Premier League this season, it’s fair to say that a draw at Chelsea away is not a bad result. At the end of the day, The Reds continue their unbeaten run and it’s possible to comment that there’s no stopping.