Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Premier League, Anfield
January 31, 2017
Wijnaldum 57′ (assist – Milner)
Antonio Conte’s Blues took to Anfield with a 10-point lead over the Reds, with the Italian moulding his squad into one of the most formidable outfits in Europe, and favourites for the title.
His opposite number, Klopp, urged his side to remain positive in the buildup, and the German was boosted by the return of Sadio Mane from the Africa Cup of Nations—the 24-year-old took his place on the bench.
In desperate need of three points if they were to revive their title hopes, Liverpool needed to make a statement under the Anfield lights, and while they were unable to seal the result, it certainly was that.
- Mane returns to Liverpool squad for first time since January 2
- Luiz opens scoring as free-kick punishes Mignolet error
- Wijnaldum levels after half-time with his third Reds goal
- Mignolet saves Costa penalty after Matip fouls the striker
- Liverpool unable to find winner despite dominance throughout
Unexpectedly, Liverpool began the game with total domination, with Chelsea barely touching the ball as Klopp’s side pushed forward in numbers, while remaining composed at the back whenever the likes of Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson were needed to recycle possession.
It was Georginio Wijnaldum who had the best chance of the opening stages, sending a rasping effort towards the top corner from range to draw a strong save from Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea began to grow into the game with a series of dangerous counter-attacks, however, and with Eden Hazard brought down by Adam Lallana 25 yards out, David Luiz took advantage with a clever free-kick routine and fired a special effort beyond Simon Mignolet to make it 1-0.
Mignolet was then brought back into action shortly after to palm away a dangerous free-kick from Willian, as Chelsea took control despite their lack of possession.
Liverpool grew visibly and audibly frustrated, but Anfield kept up their backing, setting the second half up in a fiery atmosphere.
Klopp decided against changing his setup at half-time, instead relying on his team talk to spur his side into action, and they almost found the perfect opening straight after kickoff, but Roberto Firmino put his effort into row Z when found in space inside the box.
Ex-Reds loanee Victor Moses, who proved a handful for James Milner throughout, almost benefited from a mistake from the left-back just after, but swung his shot against the post from an angle.
But it was the home side who struck next, with Wijnaldum heading home after some great improvisational work from Henderson and Milner, lifting the Anfield crowd into rapturous support.
Liverpool continued to press for the winner, and Klopp made a popular roll of the dice as he sent on Mane, but it was his goalkeeper who was needed seconds later as Matip fouled Diego Costa in the box, with Mignolet diving the right way to deny the Spaniard’s penalty.
But they were unable to create the decisive opening, forced to settle for a draw.
TIA Man of the Match: Georginio Wijnaldum
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Lallana (Origi 90’), Coutinho (Mane 75’), Firmino
Subs not used: Karius, Klavan, Lucas, Moreno, Sturridge
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Willian (Fabregas 83’), Hazard (Pedro 72′), Costa (Batshuayi 90+3’)
Subs not used: Begovic, Terry, Zouma, Chalobah