A 0-0 draw between two mid-table Premier League teams was played in a game that was very mid-table in quality.
Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea
Premier League (19), Anfield
January 21 , 2023
There’s nothing to shout about
The previous incarnations of Liverpool excited the fans and entertained them throughout the game with their high-pressing, high-line and intense game.
The current Liverpool have gone for something safer, and in their attempts to be more compact and difficult to break, they have sacrificed some of that excitement on the edge of the seat.
It’s not heavy metal football anymore. Although there have been quick passes from time to time, Liverpool are also struggling to be a team that breaks opponents by owning the ball.
At the beginning of the second half, there were noticeable changes. For the first ten minutes of this period, Chelsea played on the half of the field in front of the Kop, but soon they moved to a lower block as soon as the visitors regained possession of the ball a little.
Without pressure and with a little trial possession, Jurgen Klopp’s team cannot be recognized as the old Liverpool, and as a result it can make the game less interesting.
Hopefully, once they get out of this rut, they can start releasing heavy metal again.
Mixing things up
Klopp went with a squad that raised a few eyebrows before the start of the game, remaining loyal to a number of players who took part in the FA Cup replay in midweek, beating Wolves.
Harvey Elliott was used in an unfamiliar position on the left, and Mohamed Salah and Kodi Gakpo could also be more effective in different positions (Gakpo on the left, Salah in the center, and Elliott on the right).
It also meant that the bench was strong enough, and Darwin Nunez and Trent Alexander-Arnold were both capable of changing the course of the game.
Nunez took the field after an hour of play, and Alexander-Arnold — ten minutes later. The first one made Gakpo more dangerous and gave more speed to the attack, but none of the substitutions from either side could ultimately change the situation.
Liverpool’s best midfielder?
It wasn’t always the most convincing performance of Liverpool’s midfield as a trio, but each of Thiago, Stefan Baisetic and Naby Keita showed individual skill.
Given the unstable play of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho recently, these players more than deserve their place in the team.
There would be an argument in favor of Fabinho coming to offer some height, but at the moment they are not losing much by having the Brazilian and the captain on the bench.
Is the trio of Baysetic, Keita and Thiago the best Liverpool midfield at the moment? Probably.
Despite this, the young Baysetic has certainly shown that he is one of the most effective midfielders at the club at the moment, and given his selection for such an important match, Klopp seems to agree with him.
The manager said of the 18-year-old before the game: “He deserved it. He has made huge strides with us. Imagine if I hadn’t played with him today.
“What should a footballer do to play? It was clear.”
Gakpo does not use its chance(s)
The Liverpool recruit had several opportunities to strike at the goal, but after showing some tension and impatience, he seized his chances.
The first one looked like a good chance, as Salah gave the ball back to the penalty area from the flank. Gakpo incorrectly assumed the shape of the body, leaned back and struck the stands.
It would be unfair to call his second shot a good chance, but nevertheless his execution of the shot from outside the penalty area can still be judged. He had time to level the shot and blast it to the end of Anfield Road.
Although they were considered good chances, Infogol assigned these shots xG 0.05 and 0.04 respectively.
A header in the second half, when he did not allow the ball to fall into a better position, predictably ended, but later the turn and kick were promising.
The strength he gets in the shots is encouraging. A little more composure and attention to his technique, and these shots can bother goalkeepers wherever they are hit.
The battle for the middle of the table
These two teams will expect big matches in the Champions League next month, but given their current positions in the table, they may not participate in the competition next season.
It was billed as something more than a mid-table battle, which it really is, because of the size and reputation of the two teams, but in the end it was a messy mid-table affair.
None of the starting midfielders recorded a transfer efficiency of more than 85%, even the technical Thiago and Jorginho.
The wind did not help, but this match still lacked quality, and it clearly showed the current position of these teams in the Premier League, and that it is not false.