Every Bit As Good As An Excellent Opponent

Phew! The post-match feeling yesterday was one of exuberance. WatchingbPremier League football is very expensive and not many games provide the value for money and excitement that Liverpool and Chelsea did yesterday.

Furthermore, the game was played in a terrific spirit with no spats, helped to a great extent by an excellent referee.

Chelsea played a style of football which, on the day, was extremely effective and I, for one, felt few opponents could have coped with it.

Yet, the Reds did cope. They even took the lead with a superbly worked goal and missed chances – not as many as the visitors – but
nevertheless, Klopp’s team was never out of it.

If I’m honest, to take the lead with yet another Mo Salah strike was a touch more than we might have hoped, but with hindsight, the chances had been there.

The thing was that Chelsea’s possession play, allied to two extraordinary performances by Hazard and Kante, was something to behold and it was hard to fathom why they’re not right up at the top alongside City.

Still, the point I’m trying to make is that on the basis of this match, if Chelsea are the reigning champions, then Liverpool are a genuine top-4 side, perhaps even better. The question is where the gap between the two is most telling?

The answer lies in the names already mentioned – Hazard and Kante. The former is totally irrepressible when he’s got his best boots on, like yesterday, while the latter showed why the pundits so often eulogise about him. Hazard is nigh on impossible to pick up and finds space instinctively; having Kante alongside him makes for the perfect foil.
They certainly overshadowed Coutinho, who struggled throughout to get into the game.

Some have been criticising Klopp for his team selection, but I would argue that if his faith in yesterday’s team was considered sufficient
to take on Chelsea and subsequently make a real fist of it, the changes should have been made instead for the Seville game so that
fatigue would not have been such a second half factor. Mane and Firmino could then have played against Chelsea.

Still, what’s done is done and, for sure, the Manager’s argument regarding the strength of his squad looked spot on yesterday. Here’s
hoping for more rotation during the hectic six weeks to come, starting on Wednesday at Stoke when we can reasonably expect Mane and Firmino to be restored.

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